Eli Winter: Eli Winter | album review

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Eli Winter’s debut album, 2019 The time to come, offered a glimpse of the music of the young Chicago guitarist at its purest and most beautiful. Composed mostly of solo acoustic recordings of American primitivist guitar compositions, with occasional second guitar, the album is a true document of a master musician and his instrument, delivering performances that are both emotional and dazzling technicality. It showed what Winter could do with only minimal backing or overdubs, mostly none, and even when left to such simple presentation, Winter’s music was immediately stunning. As much room as he left to build on that foundation, he didn’t necessarily have to, either, every room complete in its intricate simplicity.

Winter has spent the past three years building on that foundation and has since released collaborative records with artists like Cameron Knowler and Jordan Reyes. With his self-titled album, his first for Three Lobed, he takes on a new role embedded in the fabric of a larger ensemble, shifting the spotlight away from himself as he invites in a much larger cast of musicians, including Ryley Walker , David Grubbs, jaimie branch, Liz Downing, as well as former collaborators such as Knowler and Reyes, presenting something far fuller and more exploratory than a record of just guitar instruments. Winter’s spectacular playing remains central to the album, but there’s so much going on that it’s easy to immerse yourself in the landscapes created by the larger ensemble.

At any time on Eli Winter, there are a number of stunning details to take in, his first track “For a Chisos Bluebonnet” being one example: beneath Winter’s superb punches lies a frenetic and energetic drum performance from Tyler Damon, as well as a melancholic steel pedal wash from Sam Wagster. Yet there are rarely times when one musician dominates, each composition is the result of each artist playing in harmony with another, the beauty of these songs is the product of the collaboration itself rather than a single central figure . And that often leads to standout moments of stylistic departure, like on the noisier experimental rock terrain of “No Fear,” the dark western of “Brain on Ice,” or the path to a jazzier take on post-rock that emerges halfway. by “Dayenu”.

It is curious that this album, the album in which Eli Winter most explicitly takes a step back to highlight the performances of his friends and collaborators, is the one that bears his name. However, it is here that Winter passes from the status of a great musician to that more broadly of a great artist. His guitar is omnipresent here, an essential part of all six compositions, but it is in the overall vision and the atmosphere created by a larger idea of ​​​​the musicians – playing on the strengths of each and finding the strength of a larger whole. and more flexible – that this album truly reveals itself.


Label: three lobe

Year: 2022


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Jeff Terich

Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He’s been writing about music for 20 years and has been published by American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and a few others he’s forgotten about right now. He still never gets tired of it.

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