James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg, a twosome with a singular chemistry on and off their respective axes, release Ambsace, their second album of guitar duets next week. While their work alongside other remarkable musicians (Elkington records and/or performs with those including Steve Gunn, Eleventh Dream Day, Tweedy, and Richard Thompson; Salsburg records and performs with Joan Shelley) is a testament to their unmatched musicianship, riffing off each other is truly where these two shine brightest. This new album was conceived as an antidote to getting soft in the fingers. The result is an elegant suite presenting Elkington & Salsburg’s own nimble, filigreed compositions alongside arrangements of songs by Duke Ellington (“Fleurette Africaine”), The Smiths (“Reel Around The Fountain”) and Norman Blake (“Slow Train”). Masterful miniatures like “Up of Stairs” and “Invention #4” strut out from the parlor with a spidery sense of swing, the cascading runs recalling the leaf-dappled play of sunlight on water. Elsewhere (e.g. “The Unhaunted Williams”; “Carrots”; “Rough Purr”), the intricate cross-currents of their duets liquefy and pool, demonstrating a mastery of restraint and space. These ten new compositions and three covers offer an adequate representation of the influences brought to bear on the playing of Ambsace in particular, but also the players of Ambsace in general.
It sounds like the end of summer.
James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg’s Ambsace is out September 18th. Catch the duo on their first tour this October supporting Steve Gunn. All dates are below.
Pre-order Ambsace here:
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“A great record takes you outside of yourself and reorganizes your world until it feels like you’re in a different environment, a different season, a different age. It’s rare to come across an album that manages to both get inside of you and force you further out of yourself, into some new expanse, but this one achieves both. Ambsace sounds like winter has always been approaching, like Indian summer never quite fades, like fall isn’t built around loss. James Elkington and Nathan Salsburg have made a record about chance and memory, telling stories completely in guitar vignettes that communicate universal archetypes wordlessly. But the quirks of the players themselves don’t get lost, even in a project with such a magnificent scope.”
(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
In related news, the incomparable Richard Thompson had some nice things to say to Premier Guitar recently about Jeff Tweedy’s decision to invite James Elkington to play on Thompson’s new record Still: “He brought in Jim Elkington from his band Tweedy as a second guitar player. That was an inspired idea, because Jim is a great guitarist and a tremendous, empathetic listener.” We agree!