NPR logo Viking's Choice: James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg, 'Great Big God Of Hands'

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Viking's Choice: James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg, 'Great Big God Of Hands'

James Elkington (left) and Nathan Salsburg. i

James Elkington (left) and Nathan Salsburg. Joan Shelley/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Joan Shelley/Courtesy of the artist
James Elkington (left) and Nathan Salsburg.

James Elkington (left) and Nathan Salsburg.

Joan Shelley/Courtesy of the artist

It's been four years since James Elkington and Nathan Salsburg released Avos. The understated acoustic guitar duo record was exceptionally conceived and played, especially given that it was the first time the two met. The English-born, longtime Chicago-based Elkington can be found on records by Steve Gunn and Richard Thompson (as well as in the excellent indie-rock band The Zincs), and the Kentucky-based folklorist Salsburg is one of the solo guitar's most thoughtful purists. Their melody-first sensibilities are perfectly suited to each other, which makes Ambsace a welcome return.

Ambsace features playfully complex guitar work that sounds as if it was tossed off in an afternoon of whiskey and laughs. (Their cover of The Smiths' "Reel Around the Fountain" makes it seem like it was always a front-porch jam.) On "Great Big God Of Hands," they're joined by Elkington's old Zincs bandmate Nick Macri on upright bass for a bright and stately tune that cruises at a carriage pace.

Ambsace comes out Sept. 18 on Paradise of Bachelors.

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