It might not have the impact that it did when Dylan went electric in the 60s but William Elliott Whitmore has now followed suit. With Radium Death he has definitely changed up his sound but it is still unmistakably Whitmore.
When the rockabilly style electric guitar rings out on the lead track “Healing To Do” you can sense a different mood immediately. The song has an instant urgency when accompanied by electric guitar and a full band than anything Whitmore has ever done. When he lets loose a primitive howl toward the end of the song you’ll be sold that this was a good move for him to go electric and add a band. The full band is used more sparingly on “Trouble in Your Heart” where he switches back to acoustic strums but he ramps it back up on “Don’t Strike Me Down” where he once again channels some punk angst. Whitmore didn’t completely convert however; he slowly plays his banjo on “Civilization” and picks at his electric on “Go On Home” by himself to give the vibe of his previous records.
Whitmore has a great idea of what works here and is careful not to take too many chances and bastardize his own sound. Every song here fits with the possible exception of the steel guitar waltz of “Can’t Go Back” that just doesn’t seem to fit Whitmore’s style well. Radium Death proves Whitmore could take on the electric and not look back if he wished, I doubt many people would complain after hearing this album.
Key tracks: “Healing To Do” “Civilizations” “Don’t Strike Me Down”