Photo by Timothy Harris
Calling James Elkington a “guitarist” is putting it lightly. The England-born musician has the kind of sound that makes you question if it’s just one guy playing; he can conjure up an entire six-string orchestra with his sprightly and nuanced fingerpicking. Over the past few years, he’s collaborated with fellow idiosyncratic guitar players Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson, Steve Gunn, and Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier. The throughline with these partnerships is an exploration of folk music, how you can bend it and honor its conventions at the same time.
On his new album Wintres Woma–Old English for “the sound of winter”–Elkington taps directly into his English roots, building on the foundation laid down by Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, and countless others. “Make It Up” sprints out of the gate thanks to Elkington’s fast picking, but it’s a rambling song, concerned more about patience and improvisation. “Best foot forward, two steps back / Has led you from the beaten track,” he intones, “Now you must make it up.”
“Make It Up” appears on Wintres Woma, out June 30 via Paradise of Bachelors.
–Art Levy // host, Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., producer, My KUTX