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Review: James Elkington's melancholy the stuff for shut-ins

James Elkington, "Ever-Roving Eye" (Paradise of Bachelors) With his "Ever-Roving Eye," James Elkington sings about wolves in the womb, the sincerity of hyenas and the clock running out — a cradle to grave perspective, in other words.

The album is a follow-up to the Chicago-based Englishman's 2017 debut and was recorded in 2018, but it inadvertently provides a fitting soundtrack to the current moment of isolation and confinement. Elkington sings in an indoor voice pitched low, reinforcing the reflective melancholy of his lyrics.

“You’ll be underground in no uncertain terms, and dozing with the worms," he sings on the opener “Nowhere Time.” "There’s a master plan somebody understands, and I wish that one was me.” Elkington's guitar chops are such that he has done session work for Richard Thompson, among others, and his intricate acoustic fingerpicking underpins these sturdy songs, as do subtle melodies built to last. Cello, violin and woodwinds provide lovely ornamentation on occasion.

The set echoes the British folk of 1968, or perhaps 1668, and will appeal in particular to music fans of a certain age who, when they hear the name Drake, think of Nick. Just the stuff for shut-ins, that is.

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