James Elkington’s debut solo record, Wintres Woma, is by no means his first foray into music. The English-born, Chicago-based guitar savant has worked with the likes of Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson, Steve Gunn, Michael Chapman, Joan Shelley, Nathan Salsburg and Brokeback over the course of his eventful career, and was previously involved with bands The Zincs and Horses Ha.
For his solo debut through, Elkington recorded in Wilco’s Loft in Chicago for a five-day stint with engineer Mark Greenberg. He played every instrument on the record, save the upright bass from Nick Macri and percussion from Tim Daisy, and it further displays his incredible skill on the six-string, along with his own gravelly singing voice. Chicago’s Tomeka Reid is also featured heavily as a vocalist on the album, making it a decidedly local affair.
Still, this record will blow far beyond any neighborhood or genre specific folk coverage — it’s guaranteed to be one of the finest folk records of the year. I’m basing that off the delicate, fiery collaboration from 2015 between Elkington and Nathan Salsburg, Ambsace, which skyrocketed both these fellows to the top of guitar-loving lists across the nation. If you didn’t hear that album, it simply means you weren’t listening hard enough. It remains a prime example of the resurgence of craft and elegance in American (well, and British) guitar-playing.