Order James Elkington’s Wintres Woma (Out Today!):

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N.B.: To celebrate the release of Wintres WomaJames Elkington & Nathan Salsburg’s Ambsace (PoB-021) is now on sale for $15 LP/$10 CD/$23 LP+CD/$5 MP3.



Well, the day is finally here: James Elkington‘s gorgeous debut solo record Wintres Woma has been nudged out the door and into the world. The reception for this album has been astounding—many thanks to all those who have taken time to listen and to watch the videos. But don’t take our word for it—read on for an overview of the critical acclaim from the likes of NPR Music (who generously hosted a First Listen), MOJO, Uncut, The Independent, Aquarium Drunkard, Stereogum, Bandcamp, Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson, and more.

Let these songs into your summer, and catch James on tour soon.



Sat. Jul. 1 – Chicago, IL @ Reckless Records (free in-store)

See all concerts

Concerts by Songkick

Fri. Aug. 4 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos w/ J Mascis





Looking for a thread connecting some of the year’s best records, from Joan Shelley to to Michael Chapman’s 50? Look to guitarist James Elkington. Now, Elkington adds another record to the list of this year’s most engaging: his own LP, Wintres Woma. Recorded over a handful of days at the Wilco Loft, the album recalls Bert Jansch’s California recordings and Kevin Ayers’ most pastoral moods, subtly blending English chamber folk with rock and jazz touches. It’s deceptively casual, revealing more humor and depth with each listen. Strange characters, seances, cursed week days, and astral musings make Elkington’s songs, which showcase his progressive pop tendencies (“Make It Up”), dreaminess (“Wading the Vapors)” and prove he can amble with the best of them (“Hollow in Your House,” “Sister of Mine”).

– Jason Woodbury, Aquarium Drunkard

The sheer force of Elkington’s virtuosity is an attraction unto itself, but the amazing thing about it isn’t the playing. While it’s clear that Elkington could’ve taken his place alongside William Tyler and Daniel Bachman in the new pantheon of instrumental fingerpicking masters, he’s gone another way. He’s still playing like an absolute beast, but he’s also presenting himself as a quiet, contemplative singer-songwriter. And somehow, that makes his work even more impressive. The album sounds sharp and pristine and layered in a way that most of Elkington’s solo-acoustic peers never get a chance to equal.  Wintres Woma has the same full, oaky quality to the recording that Pink Moon does. It’s great zone-out music, music for staring out windows and getting your thoughts together. And during a time when we can’t help but get tiny stress seizures every time we pull out our phones and check our newsfeeds, there’s real value to an album like this. It’s a balm, a shelter. “Take your time any afternoon,” Elkington counsels on the album’s closer. It’s good advice, and he’s made a piece of music that might help you follow it. 

– Tom Breihan, Stereogum “Album of the Week”

A fingerstylist of tremendous prowess, but also as a bright and cogent arranger. Gentle traces of Nic Jones and Bert Jansch are deeply embedded in his style here, but the roguish writhings of Bill Callahan and Nick Cave are equally as present. Elkington helps to breathe new life into a variety of beloved folk traditions in a refreshingly candid manner.

– Joseph Darling, Bandcamp Daily “Album of the Day”

The music on Wintres Woma reflects Elkington’s interest in folk traditions from his native Britain as well as his adopted country, assembled with poplike concision and graced with the same sophisticated melodic sensibility that made the Zincs stand out from their indie-rock kin.

– Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader feature

4/5 stars. The sublime waltz “Wading the Vapors” proves that Elkington, aided by cellist Tomeka Reid, can provide abundant depth and beauty, while the perhaps prophetic “Greatness Yet to Come” illustrates a willingness to blend hot-picking with something more cinematic. 

– Fred Dellar, MOJO

4/5 stars. James Elkington has been acclaimed by such knowledgeable figures as Richard Thompson and Jeff Tweedy as one of the most dazzling fingerstyle guitarists around – a reputation confirmed here by his propulsive, cyclical picking on tracks like “Make It Up”, providing a deft counterpoint to his wary, murmurous vocals. His songs are clusters of dark, foreboding images – “Spray your days with coffin nails”; “Entrails made into garlands to welcome my way” – reaching an apogee in “Greatness Yet To Come”, a mystic vision akin to the Crossroads Myth. But the darkness is spiked with sweetness in songs such as “The Hermit Census”, which finds him acknowledging, “There’s no time to make a meal of sorrow, when the rabble is hungry for mirth”.

– Andy Gill, The Independent



The combination of Elkington’s sonorous baritone and virtuosic fretboard forays makes a strong case for him as the spiritual heir to the late U.K. folk legend Bert Jansch. But for all of Wintres Woma‘s links to a scene that was approaching its peak when Elkington was a zygote, the dominant artistic voice here is an unflinchingly singular one. The lyrics, in particular, travel a path that seems entirely their own, with imagery unusual enough to force your synapses into new configurations, and a bittersweetness palpable enough to take you by the tear ducts and squeeze. With Elkington’s intimate, plum wine vocals and tactile guitar work at the core throughout, each track feels like a stylishly scrawled diary entry we’ve somehow wrangled the permission to read. His combination of timeless folk flavorings and an artful modernity blend into a wistful but never forlorn kind melancholy. It’s the kind that steps far enough back from the shifting of the seasons of life to know that the whole thing is just a dream to be played out, a dance to follow through, on the way to becoming one with the true sound of winter.

– Jim Allen, NPR Music First Listen

Jim is a great guitarist and a tremendous, empathetic listener. 

– Richard Thompson

Jim can play all of the things I pretend to know how to play. When he plays my parts, it’s like looking in a mirror that reflects a more handsome version of yourself.

– Jeff Tweedy

With Wintres Woma, Elkington finds the space between fire and smoke, tangling complex fingerpicking into quiet, glowing melodies.

– Lars Gotrich, NPR Music

8/10; I’m New Here feature. The ex-pat Brit displays an affecting, fluid picking style… Merging a love of English folk with the influences of his new home, it’s an uncluttered but nimble collection, as likely to draw comparisons to Nick Drake as James Blackshaw. 

– Wyndham Wallace, Uncut

Starkly gorgeous. Wintres Woma is less a debut than a timestamp of a road warrior’s present state of being. It sings with his collaborations, his influences, and his ingenuity.

– Will Schube, Noisey

The guitar king … already a visionary in his own right.

– Duncan Cooper, The Fader

James Elkington’s Wintres Woma is the one folk guitar album you must hear in 2017.

— Caitlin White, Uproxx

The album emphasizes Elkington’s sleepy baritone voice and lyrical, fingerstyle guitar playing. Curlicue figures on songs like “Make it Up” will send aspiring guitarists to the woodshed. Although working with folk-based accoutrements, Elkington’s instincts are shaped as much by Television and the Smiths as they are by Nick Drake and Davey Graham.

– Jeff Elbel, Chicago Sun-Times

 James Elkington has an effortless skill, the kind of picking prowess that dissolves like smoke into mood and atmosphere. He is a very good player, a lovely relaxed singer (in the vein of Bert Jansch) and an eccentric writer, whose songs borrow liberally from British folk tradition, but veer into unexpected directions. But if you want to know what’s mesmerizing about this slow burning beauty of an album, listen to the intervals, where Elkington dreams jazz-inflected fever reveries… It is there, between verses, that these songs blossom.

– Jennifer Kelly, Dusted

Wintres Woma sees Elkington exercising his strengths, creating intricately woven webs of acoustic delights to complement his sonorous singing … A beautiful platter of avant-folk that presents itself gently but lands with great weight.

– Chicagoist

10/10. This album is a direct descendent to all of those classic English folk records by Bert Jansch, John Martyn, Ralph McTell, Nick Drake, and Michael Chapman. Yeah, it’s that good. And it’s that good with the songwriting, the guitar magic, an almost Kevin Ayers-like baritone voice, and lovely maverick spirit. 

– Bill Golembeski, Soundblab

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. 

– Art Levy, KUTX “Song of the Day”

Wintres Woma simultaneously has an earthy and an astral bent to it. It’s possible those emphatic strings and the fervent guitar work was recorded a few months ago, but it’s also possible this is music from four centuries back.

– Paste

It is superb. It consists of beautiful fingerpicking that suggests he has more than the average number of fingers matched with a wonderful folky feel bringing to mind the autumnal hues of Nick Drake, Richard Thompson and Bert Jansch. Elkington’s voice and delivery have something of the Jim O’Rourke about it—traditional enough to be placed within the folk canon but with something of the contemporary about it. There are Fahey-esque instrumentals, wandering autumnal watery folk, beautiful orchestration and of course terrific guitar playing . It’s a winner alright. 

– Norman Records

An elegant acoustic album.

– Chicago Magazine

The album is sure to assert Elkington into the already crowded crop of folk musicians who have been pushing the guitar to a new frontier for the better part of the decade, its compositions warm as they are at times unnerving and haunting.

– Since I Left You

Deserves a lot of attention from careful listeners. Elkington’s strength is his ability to meld a few very specific influences into something wholly his own. A superb slice of music.

– A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed

A strong suite of compositions that canter and curl with commanding calmness.

– Delusions of Adequacy

81/100. Wintres Woma is an album of crystalline clarity; one where every note is accounted for and where every small touch exists to serve the song. It’s a carefully made album but not self-consciously so, and is all the better for it. Meticulously crafted and performed with finesse, this is an excellent debut album from Elkington. 

– Gigsoup

Elkington shows just what a buoyant arranger he’s become, as his vocals stretch out and constrict to complement his re-tuned guitar playing and strings. Wintres Woma is a great showcase for this extraordinary folk hero.

– Exclaim