James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg - Ambsace
RIYL Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Stefan Grossman, Mike Cooper, Nic Jones, Roscoe Holcomb, Richard Thompson, Richard Crandell and Bill Bartels, Daniel Bachman, and Steve Gunn.
The second album of astonishing duets by guitarists James Elkington (who has toured and/or recorded with Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson, and Steve Gunn, among others) and Nathan Salsburg (an accomplished soloist deemed by NPR "one of those names we'll all associate with American folk guitar") is a sublime suite of nimble, filigreed compositions by two singular stylists. Belying its title - "ambsace" is the lowest throw of dice; snake eyes - the record thrives on a gentle empathy and generosity of spirit, sitting sneakily protean original compositions alongside gorgeous arrangements of songs by Duke Ellington and The Smiths at the same big hand-hewn table. The record was composed and recorded in Jim‰۪s attic studio over two late summer sessions, one year apart. Joined later by Avos alums Wanees Zarour (violin) and Nick Macri (bass), Elkington and Salsburg each brought in parts to be submitted to the experience, which was animated by plenty coffee before three, plenty beer after, with songs taking shape in some cases over many stifling hours (e.g., ‰ÛÏBee‰۪s Thing‰); in others, over a matter of manic minutes (e.g., ‰ÛÏStern and Earnest‰). Tunes grew out of constituent elements assembled like a round of Jenga, with the occasional crash to the floor and outbursts of laughter. When the teetering edifice seemed complete, it was played till structural integrity was achieved and it sounded good enough to record. Their ten new compositions, plus the further inclusion of three covers‰ÛÓby Duke Ellington, Norman Blake, and the Smiths‰ÛÓoffer an adequate representation of the influences brought to bear on the playing of Ambsace in particular, but also the players of Ambsace in general. When taken as the sum of it parts, ‰ÛÏambsace‰ in fact means a couple of aces. "Their playing and guitar tones are so complementary, so perfectly wed that I wouldn't hesitate to put the duo up there with some of the very best acoustic guitar partnerships: Stefan Grossman and John Renbourn come immediately to mind, as does the work of Richard Crandell and Bill Bartels." Work & Worry.