Their melody-first sensibilities are perfectly suited to each other. Ambsace features playfully complex guitar work that sounds as if it was tossed off in an afternoon of whiskey and laughs. (Their cover of The Smiths’ “Reel Around the Fountain” makes it seem like it was always a front-porch jam.)
– Lars Gotrich, NPR Music
English-bred, Chicago-based James Elkington and Louisville-bred-and-based Nathan Salsburg will release Ambsace, their new album of elegant guitar duets, on September 18th. This second collaboration by Elkington, who has toured and/or recorded with Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson, and Steve Gunn, among others, and Salsburg, an accomplished soloist, accompanist to Joan Shelley, and the curator of the Alan Lomax Archive, once again presents an intriguing and never over-indulgent suite of songs by two singular stylists with a remarkable chemistry. After sharing the album’s opening song “Up of Stairs,” Elkington & Salsburg now offer up “Great Big God Of Hands,” debuted today via NPR Music. Below, Salsburg recounts how the song title came to be.
One of my favorite singers is the late balladeer, union activist, and hell-raiser Nimrod Workman, who died at the age of 99 in 1994. He recorded a great version of a Pentecostal Holiness hymn called “The Great Big Hand of God” in the early ’80s. Around the time that Jim and I were mixing the record, I spent a quarter on an LP by one Bobby Grove, an evangelical singer-guitarist from Ohio, called “The Big Hand of God.” It turned out that his rendition, like the rest of the record, was completely miserable, but I did squeeze a song title out of it.
Listen to previous single “Up of Stairs”: