Avos: James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg

By James Calemine

Avos contains high-grade musicianship…

James Elkington, a London native, and Nathan Salsburg from Louisville, Kentucky, met in New York City years ago. Elkington served as bandleader for The Zincs, member of The Horse’s Ha and guitar player in Skull Orchard. Salsburg works as the Alan Lomax Archive curator.

These two musicians play guitar duets on Avos–where English baroque and American blues shake hands. Avos is a Russian word that means a confident approach to new situations, and faith that nothing tragic will occur once in them. Elkington and Salsburg never played together before. These songs were crafted over several sessions on a porch in Louisville and a kitchen in Chicago. It’s a six-string dreamland on this instrumental album.

The braided tapestry of sound on Avos begins with “Hospitality”. Salsburg’s finger-picking is amazing, and Elkington weaves in and out of Salsburg’s deft runs with an Appalachian resonance. The music retains a ghostly quality. “A Free Amft” evokes verdant green pastures under overcast skies. “Sedentary Song” sounds like a parlor lullaby.

“Fez and Guinness” evokes a lazy quality as if caught somewhere between a memory and a dream. “Romany Belle” might be heard as a soundtrack while admiring the beautiful smile of blue-eyed maiden in some remote country tavern. The spice of “Marjoram” conjures images of drifting blue smoke. The title track begins with a strange chanting treatment before the guitars appear out of the fog. The song’s mood indicates changing seasons…

“Believer Field” paints vivid images of silver streams and golden leaves under a setting sun. “The Blurring Cogs” emits a hypnotic musical quality with a circling sound. “The Queue Outside The Night Ministry” includes distant midnight street chatter amid this fever dream number. “Scarborough Fore And Aft” ends Avos with a reflective distance somewhere beyond the wild blue yonder…


The Local Stranger

Insured Beyond The Grave

Insured Beyond The Grave Vol. 2