After years making music with The Wilderness of Manitoba and Lake Forest, Will Whitwham presents his long-awaited solo project, an EP entitled End of Dreams. It is a solemn and poetic statement about rites of passage in the life of an artist.
Whitwham’s clear strength is in weaving folk melodies together with images of Canadian winters, and disparate observations about the course of life in the country, that together yield a ragged sort of tapestry, steeped in wonder and gratitude. Beneath the surface, there is the sense of a past we are trying to get away from.
One wonders what personal memories are buried in the trauma of old times. But we do know that eventually, if we stray too far from the recollection, we may forget what was burning.
An empty house of memory
haunted by the fire
burning still in distant flame
There are many tales here of love, as memories will tend towards that riddle of the unsaid, the could-have-been, and the visitation here is with the affection that remains for that sense of connection. How fleeting it is; yet in that swirling space of self-possession, we find moments of clarity. The truth often hides in the corners, where the devil is:
We follow God because the devil hides
in crooked corners where the dark resides
sometimes I see him walking in the street
in times of sin and cold defeat
In the Ashes, our spotlight track from the End of Dreams EP by Will Whitwham, has a majestic and broad sense of dynamics, beginning with the sturdy sound of the primary component, a flat-picked acoustic guitar, and some other atmospheric elements - notably, some long notes on electric guitar and a spacey vocal mix that easily fills the remaining space. The result is an endearing and vulnerable folk number that splits the difference between Elliot Smith and Sufjan Stevens.
Here also, is the sum-total of a life in observation, the details of which yield some discoveries. And so often, that self-discovery leads back to the power of connection, and that tempting prize of acceptance.
Because it always seems to come back to you
your raven hair and your brown eyes blue
I lost one friend and the other went south
now I need the lands around your mouth
to tell me I’m still living right
because I’d kill to be with you tonight
We are left with the soothing sonic footprint of an artist who is in a constant state of self-examination, and who fuses a solitary and rugged persona with the aching heart of a poet.
I’m still here, no matter what you think
I sent you pictures of Egypt and the Sphinx
as my aching stomach slowly starts to sink
I am far away but closer than you think
Will Whitwham is a founding member of the Wilderness of Manitoba. This song is featured on our Roots Collection playlist.
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