Get back to your roots with William Elliott Whitmore & Jenny Hoyston! A duets record to rival the classic Johnny & June recordings
This review was originally posted on our sister site REBEL NOISE. You may be wondering how a review of an alt-country/folk album like this found a place on a website like Rebel Noise. Well, it’s a roots record with an edge coming from two artists that share punk rock roots. In a scene that shares a respect of honest roots music from the likes of Johnny Cash to Greg Graffin (Bad Religion) it’s not much of a stretch.
Hallways of Always is a six song slice of Americana served up by the unlikely duo of Jenny Hoyston and William Elliot Whitmore. Jenny hails from the experimental art-noise group Erase Errata and William is a banjo picker with three previous releases of his very unique, dark, alt-folk on Southern Records.
Many have compared the duets on this project to that of the renowned June Carter & Johnny Cash but don’t let that give you the impression that this is a tribute record or some novelty act. These two came together first as friends and roommates a few years back. They discovered a shared love of classic Nashville recordings and a true musical kinship that finally came to fruition with this remarkable album. The idea for these two to record together was actually that of Southern Records president, Danielle Soto. During a big sing-along of “Yellow Submarine” she noticed two voices harmonizing remarkably well above the rest at the Fireside Bowl during the Chicago stop of the 2004 “Let’s Be Active” tour.
Hallways was recorded in a week at Whitmore's cousin Luke Tweedy's Flat Black Studios, which is also his living room. It’s just six songs coming off at under thirty minutes but from the first note these two voices blend to paint a portrait of personal struggle that is both beautiful and sad.
The opening track “Feast of a Thousand Beasts” features primitive banjo backed by an unusual sound like an eery wind created by a singing saw. The second track ‘You’ve Already Gone’ is a remorseful tale of a relationship dying slowly that will surely hit home for many. The next two songs are vocal solo tracks. Black Iowa Dirt is William’s homage to his personal roots growing up on a horse farm in a small Iowa town on the banks of the Mississippi River. Following William’s solo track is “We Miss You”, which is Jenny’s sentimental tribute to her late father. The next track, “Marrow” is the most reminiscent of the early Johnny Cash and June Carter duets. The lyric declares a love sworn down to the marrow of my bones. The album closes with the haunting title track featuring Jenny’s atmospheric keyboard playing against William’s acoustic guitar.
Hallways of Always tracklist:
01 Feast of a Thousand Beasts
02 You've Already Gone
03 Black Iowa Dirt
04 We Miss You
06 Hallways of Always
I sincerely hope that this is not the last we hear of Whitmore/Hoyston collaborations.