Thanks to Stereogum for premiering “Reel Around the Fountain,” James and Nathan’s gorgeous, transformative Smiths cover, which you can listen to here or below.
“Stripped of vocals and the slow dirge of organs, their version imagines some happiness into the song’s somber, backwards declarations of love. They’ve softened it without watering it down. But injecting a sprightly air into a Smiths song is no mean feat, and this version becomes wholly their own in a flurry of sweet guitar flourishes that never lose sight of the initial dizzying melody.”
– Caitlin White, Stereogum
Pre-order Ambsace here:
“Ambsace features playfully complex guitar work that sounds as if it was tossed off in an afternoon of whiskey and laughs.” – NPR Music
If they were forced to name one guitarist who had the most formative influence on them both, James Elkington and Nathan Salsburg would likely say Johnny Marr. Marr gave young English-born Elkington an introduction to his own native guitar tradition: The Smiths opened a musical rabbit-hole into which the teenaged drummer dropped to find a fervid hankering to play the instrument and to play it like Bert Jansch, no small influence on Marr himself. Adolescent Salsburg, having gotten his first taste of the alternately-tuned English guitar from Jimmy Page’s “Bron-Yr-Aur” (although it took him years to figure out that that song was impossible to play in standard tuning because it wasn’t played in standard tuning), had his mind blown by hearing its transmutation in The Smiths songs, like “Back to the Old House” and “This Charming Man,” and proceeded, as many adolescents do, to bawl his eyes out for years over it. So Elkington’s suggestion to Salsburg that they tackle a Smiths song together was the best idea Elkington ever had and the best Saslburg ever heard. That the song they ended up tackling is the very first Smiths song Salsburg ever heard, on the very first Smiths album, perhaps is auspicious for the duo’s eventual interpretive tackling of the entire Morrissey-Marr ouerve. You just haven’t earned it yet, baby.
Listen below to James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg’s version of “Reel Around The Fountain,” off their sophomore album of guitar duets, Ambsace, out September 18th.
Elkington & Salsburg will embark on their first duo tour this October supporting Steve Gunn. Gunn will headline solo with occasional accompaniment by Elkington, who has been a member of the Steve Gunn touring band and played on Way Out Weather.
Listen to “Great Big God Of Hands”:
Listen to “Up of Stairs”:
(all shows James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg supporting Steve Gunn solo)
Thu. Oct. 22 – Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church – Side Chapel
Fri. Oct. 23 – Brooklyn, NY @ Union Pool
Sat. Oct. 24 – Brooklyn, NY @ Union Pool
Sun. Oct. 25 – Northampton, MA @ Iron Horse
Mon. Oct. 26 – Burlington, VT @ Signal Kitchen
Tue. Oct. 27 – Montreal, QC @ La Plante
Thu. Oct. 29 – Toronto, ON @ The Great Hall
Fri. Oct. 30 – Detroit, MI @ Marble Bar
Sat. Oct. 31 – Chicago, IL @ Constellation Room