THE PRESS RELEASE: “Chicago songwriter and guitarist James Elkington — who has collaborated with everyone from Richard Thompson to Jeff Tweedy to Tortoise — recorded his sophomore album at Wilco’s Loft, expanding upon his celebrated 2017 debut Wintres Woma as well as his recent production and arrangement work for the likes of Steve Gunn, Nap Eyes, and Joan Shelley. Casting glances back to British folk traditions as well as toward avant-garde horizons, these brilliant new songs, as accessible as they are arcane, buttress Elkington’s brisk guitar figures and baritone poesy with strings, woodwinds, and backing vocals by Tamara Lindeman of the Weather Station.”
MY TWO CENTS: Calling James Elkington a Chicago musician is technically and geographically accurate, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Although the smoky-voiced singer-songwriter and virtuoso guitarist does indeed reside in the Windy City these days, he hails from England — and that cross-continental marriage of cultures, sounds and styles is what defines his work on this outstanding and mesmerizing album. Over the course of these 10 compelling cuts, Elkington displays smart, stylish songwriting that continually balances multiple elements and influences — from classic British folk and prog to contemporary post-rock, jazz and Americana — with all the skillful efficiency and simple elegance of a skilled plate spinner. If you’re looking for an album that everyone from old folkies to young hipsters to guitar fans of all ages can agree on, look no further.