Eli Winter – s/t

On his self-titled LP on Three Lobed Recordings, Eli Winter evolves his sound with the help of his many talented friends and guests, while still remaining true to himself in his music.

Available today on vinyl, CD and digital, Eli Winter is a stunning collection of pieces that truly show the breadth of the young guitarist’s many powers and moods. While this might be a (largely) instrumental guitar album, it is so much more than that, revealing the myriad of musical and nonmusical influences that inspire Winter’s compositions and playing. He proves here that guitar soli music can incorporate and suggest so much more than folk and blues stylings and modes.

Across the album, Winter leads various different band lineups that assist in flushing out the complex range of subtle emotions and colors of every song. He’s joined by fellow guitar virtuosos, Yasmin Williams, Ryley Walker and Cameron Knowler, along with artists like Jordan Reyes on synthesizer, Jaimie Branch on flugelhorn and Whitney Johnson on viola. Plus, the album features a near-constant backing of Tyler Damon’s drums and Sam Wagster’s beautiful pedal steel guitar work. Winter collaboratively utilizes the unique languages and abilities of each artist, like different selections of paint on his palette, to further elaborate the pieces of himself that he often broadcasts through his own instrument.

This is perhaps most evident in the album’s closing track, the climatic “Unbecoming.” The song opens with David Grubbs’ droning harmonium work, which recalls the modernist accordion records of Pauline Oliveros, and Winter’s acoustic fingerpicking emerging from its reedy haze.

Swelling viola and droning bowed banjo (courtesy of Liz Downing) bloom around Winter’s wistful melody, emphasizing his lyrical guitar phrases and the sighs and longing that are only hinted at in his playing. The song concludes with wordless, breathy vocalizations from Downing and Giulia Chiappetta, acting as a sort of balm, bringing a comforting vibe to the otherwise melancholic track. It’s like when a mother hushes her crying child by quietly singing or humming a cherished lullaby close to their ear. This sages not only the song, but the entire album as a whole.

From the cathartic vocals to Walker’s discordant electric scuzz on “No Fear,” and Branch’s twirling flugelhorn on “Dayenu,” prior to this record, Winter channeled different sounds, instruments and textures like these through his guitar. Yet here, he finally has the chance to orchestrate those same ideas with all of the aural ingredients that live inside his head. So no matter who’s playing, you still feel so much of Winter’s personality and voice in each song. The possibilities of where Winter can go from here as a composer and arranger are absolutely endless. We are lucky to be able to listen to his journey.

Click here to get your copy of Winter’s new album today.


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Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and Thewaster.com and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

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