elk

Elkhorn is just two guys with guitars — Jesse Shephard on acoustic 12-string and Drew Gardner on electric — but the duo packs a lot of music into The Black River, an excellent new collection of six exploratory instrumentals. Takoma School fingerpicking, psych-ed out jams, brooding pieces that call to mind Neil’s Dead Man soundtrack, some hints of West African trance blues … Shephard and Gardner seem to have absorbed it all (and more), emerging with a beautifully unclassifiable blend. Riskiest of all here is their cover of Coltrane’s masterpiece of mood, “Spiritual.” But it’s an unqualified success, matching the original’s deep heaviness, as Shephard holds down an immovable center for Gardner to dance around. This is a River you’ll want to follow wherever it flows. words / t wilcox

Elkhorn :: Spiritual

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