There are certainly more than a few schools of fingerpicked guitar, but in the West, predominantly there’s the Fahey/Basho axis and there’s the English lope of the Jansch/Drake/Jones school. Elkington takes the latter for a turn and rolls his English folk like a stream peppered with stones and winding through eddies of life. The songwriter has found himself a bit of a jackknife of the studio, a sideman’s sideman who’s fleshed out albums from Jeff Tweedy, Wooden Wand, Richard Thompson, Steve Gunn and Tortoise to name a few. He’s a kind of built in textural embellishment that seals a song with a strange magic.
As such, his own solo debut employs more than a bit of that magic, weaving it deep into the fabric of Wintres Woma. Like Drake (uh Nick that is) before him, he knows the value of melancholy as a driving force. Though, unlike his forebear, he also knows how to pump the breaks and enjoy a streak of sunshine on the meadow when it hits him. To that point, this album is going to feel like a constant companion come autumn. Few songs here aren’t built for the brisk inhalation of decaying fauna underpinned with the rustle of breeze acting like natural percussion.
Elkington is an almost preternatural songwriter, plucking songs from the air like they’d always existed. Winteres Woma is the kind of folk record that’s whispered about in collector’s circles and traded on fuzzy tape, uploaded to YouTube clips and hidden in second hand shops to be picked up on payday. At least that seems its fate in another life, were it to be released in the late ’70s and suffering the kind of tax scam release schedule that befell so many before him. While he might not have the fluffed up backstory of a lost classic, he has captured the same feeling here and now. Thankfully this doesn’t have to be dug out of Discogs at a premium or waited out on re-release. Elkington has crafted a time-shifted folk record that’s pristine and present. You’d be a fool to let fate get its hands on this one.
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