Folk-Rock Is Actually Shredding Right Now, And James Elkington Is Proof

The guitar king’s first solo album, Wintres Woma, comes out this summer via Paradise of Bachelors.

A few months back, I ranked the 25 best acoustic guitar songs of 2016. I didn't make that same list in 2015, but if I had, the #1 slot would've likely come from James Elkington and Nathan Salsburg's Ambsace. On that immersive record, Elkington, a Chicago-based Brit, let his instrument do the talking. Now, on his debut solo LP, Wintres Woma, out June 30th via Paradise of Bachelors, he opens his dang mouth for the first time and oh do the tunes come out.

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"I would say that being part of a committee is my more natural inclination," Elkington told me about the decision to release solo, after years of collaborating with the likes of Jeff Tweedy, Steve Gunn, and Michael Chapman. "I love being in situations where everyone contributes to the music and it emerges somewhere beyond being just the sum of its parts. I also love playing with great songwriters, only being responsible for how my guitar-playing affects the arrangement of a song and not always having to worry about the big picture; in those situations its more like being a passenger on a bus than the driver.  For this record I had to drive the bus…"

As lead single "Make It Up" proves, with a psychedelic force akin to Cass McCombs's recent Mangy Love, Elkington is already a visionary in his own right. In the end, he found the process of recording pretty much the same as he'd done before: "Big mountains of self-doubt to scale, too much coffee, running out of time, lots of leaning on friends and family, etc.," he said. "But I'm proud of where it landed, and it's personal enough that I couldn't do anything other than put it out under my own name."

Folk-Rock Is Actually Shredding Right Now, And James Elkington Is Proof