Monday, November 16, 2020

Albums of The Year # 40 James Elkington - Ever-Roving Eye

  From April:

James Elkington lays his cards on the table right from the off on his new record Ever-Roving Eye. Within seconds you find yourself in deeply familiar territory. This is Bert Jansch, Richard Thompson, Nick Drake and John Renbourne. The playing is accomplished and laidback, the atmosphere is warm. You feel like your sitting in front of a crackling, open fire on a winter's evening in a busy English pub.

Elkington sticks to his guns throughout the record. This isn't an album that will surprise you but it should be one you find comfort in, if you're prone to this kind of thing. I am and I love it. It was given Album of the Month status by Uncut Magazine, and respect to them for doing so rather than going for something more obvious. Elkington is the kind of musician who deserves greater recognition than generally might come his way. He's not pushy or overbearing, just quietly talented, and this is a very well crafted record.

He would clearly be someone who it would be great to see live but actually listening through to Ever-Roving Eye actually replicated the live experience well for me, so intimate is the playing and crystal clear the production values. We're obviously all using our imaginations to a much greater extent given the lockdown experience that millions of us are sharing and this is a record that allows you to give it free rein, so deeply evocative is it of a particular set of comforting musical tropes.

So, Elkington is not pushing the boat out here, but establishing his quiet mastery of specific, familiar crafts. The lyrics here are not ostentatious, but quietly poetic and at ease with their musical setting. This is a companion piece to his excellent 2017 debut Wintres Woma. Its probably a consolidation of what he accomplished there. A better record and a very good one to batten down the hatches to and become familiar with during this enforced Spring hibernation.

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