Eli Winter Credit: Adrián Mandeville

The first time I saw 21-year-old Texas native Eli Winter perform was about a year ago, when he opened for Ryley Walker at the Chicago record-release show for Walker’s Deafman Glance. He told an adorable story about catching Walker at a show in Winter’s hometown of Houston and being overwhelmed with nerves when they talked at the merch table—and crazily enough, now here he was, not only living in the same town as Walker (who’s since moved to New York) but also sharing the stage with him. The appreciation is clear on Winter’s new The Time to Come, his first proper full-length and his debut for Houston’s Blue Hole Recordings. His music recalls Walker’s early material: he writes beautiful, winding, Fahey-flavored compositions for fingerstyle solo acoustic guitar, and they seem wise beyond his years. Though Winter began the sessions for the album in Houston after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, his warm, uplifting spirit and lush melodies hint at hope—this isn’t the soundtrack to the harsh bleakness of the storm’s toll, but rather to the sun rising over a new day. Rich and inviting, The Time to Come is especially impressive for coming so early in the songwriter’s career. The future is bright for Eli Winter, and we’re lucky to be able to witness it.   v