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Few things are better than stumbling upon an astounding new instrumental acoustic guitar record made by two pickers who never let their dazzling technique get in the music’s way. The album, Ambsace, is a meeting of the minds – or fingers – between English-born, Chicago-based James Elkington, who tours with Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson and Steve Gunn, and Louisville’s Nathan Salsburg, curator of the Alan Lomax archive.
On their second release, the duo’s elegant compositions sit neatly aside reinterpretations of works by Duke Ellington, the Smiths and
Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake. Fans of Bert Jansch and Gunn will love the mesmerizing interweaving of melodies and unusual chords, though they take a folkier rather than psychedelic approach and don’t go in for a lot of melancholy (but a cover of Ellington’s Fleurette Africaine is gorgeously forlorn). The brief Carrots gets a boost from a bottle slide, while the Smiths’ Reel Around The Fountain is, surprisingly, the most uplifting of the 13 tracks.
Their show with Gunn at the month’s end should not be missed.
Top track: Carrots
James Elkington and Nathan Salsburg open for Steve Gunn at the Great Hall on October 29.