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Wintres Woma
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Macie Stewart (vocals, violin, viola); Tomeka Reid (vocals, cello); Tim Daisy (percussion).
  • Audio Mixer: Mark Greenberg.
  • Recording information: The Loft, Chicago.
  • Photographer: Spencer Tweedy.
  • A regular, if somewhat under-the-radar presence on the Chicago scene, British-born guitarist/vocalist James Elkington makes fluid, harmonically layered folk that draws on the progressive style pioneered in the '60s and '70s by artists like Bert Jansch and John Fahey. It's a style he previously investigated alongside fellow guitarist Nathan Salsburg on several albums and which found him working as a sideman for respected rock luminaries including Jeff Tweedy and Richard Thompson. It's also a sound he spotlights on his evocative, gorgeously rendered debut album, 2017's Wintres Woma. Old English for "the sound of winter," Wintres Woma envelops you like a warm wool blanket on a dark, snowbound evening. Elkington has a woody, naturalistic voice that fits well with his introspective style. However, it's his adept fingerpicking, lithe fretboard skills, and inventive harmonic structures that impress the most here. Whether backed by a cadre of genre-crossing talents including violinist Macie Stewart, cellist Tomeka Reid, bassist Nick Macri, and percussionist Tim Daisy, or playing solo, as he does on a delicately rendered version of the traditional song "The Parting Glass," Elkington creates a warm, deeply nuanced sound that's at once traditional and forward-thinking. Primarily, these are all original compositions and have the same new, yet strangely familiar feeling that some classic artists like Nick Drake, Robert Wyatt, and Ralph McTell are able to conjure. Some cuts, like rambling lead-off "Make It Up" and the waltz-like "The Hermit Census," have a winding, circular quality that improbably combines a rootsy singer/songwriter lyricism with a vibe influenced by the contemporary classical composition of John Cage. Others, like the magical "When I Am Slow," reveal yet more of Elkington's broad stylistic palette as his resonant traditional folk guitar lines spiral outward into Middle Eastern-tinged melodies. Ultimately, it's these small, inventive epiphanies, like staring at images in swirling snow, that make Wintres Woma such an unexpectedly transcendent delight. ~ Matt Collar
Professional Reviews
Magnet - "The music's effortless grace contradicts the experiences of temporal and cultural unease that Elkington sings about in ways that'll keep the listener guessing and the record spinning."

Paste (magazine) - "[I]t's a lovely document of not only his top-shelf guitar abilities, but also his sharp songwriting skills and sturdy singing voice. These qualities come together right off the bat in opening track 'Make It Up,' a tightly wound..."
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