New al­bum for Tins­ley El­lis

‘Tough Love’ from Tins­ley El­lis fea­tures a soul­ful mix of blues, rock, coun­try and R&B

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ISLAND WEEKEND - Doug Gal­lant Doug Gal­lant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his mu­sic re­view col­umn for The Guardian ev­ery week. He wel­comes com­ments from read­ers at dgal­lant@the­guardian.pe.ca or 629-6000, ext. 6057. On Track

At­lantic Blues­man Tins­ley El­lis has re­leased a new al­bum called “Tough Love”. In his weekly On Track col­umn, Guardian reporter Doug Gal­lant looks at the smooth sounds be­hind this award-win­ning per­former’s lat­est work.

If you don’t en­joy be­ing ac­tive out­doors, the months im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing Christ­mas can be dreary, de­press­ing and down­right mis­er­able.

Un­less of course you’ve got the right mu­sic at your fin­ger­tips. Or the time to find it. I’ve al­ways found the win­ter months to be the best months of the year for track­ing down mu­sic I’ve heard good things about but haven’t ex­plored yet.

I keep a par­tial list of things I’ve stum­bled across on mu­sic web­sites I trust like www.all­mu­sic.com and www.mojo4 mu­sic.com or heard about from friends in the trade.

When time per­mits, as it does at this time of year, I plow through a half-dozen or so at a time.

The first re­lease I checked off that list this year is “Tough Love” from highly touted At­lanta blues gui­tarist Tins­ley El­lis.

It was a good choice.

El­lis, who’s been churn­ing out records since 1981 when he and har­mon­ica player Chicago Bob Nelson recorded an al­bum to­gether as The Heart­fix­ers, has de­vel­oped some se­ri­ous chops over time.

“Gui­tar World” mag­a­zine was draw­ing favourable com­par­isons to Ste­vie Ray Vaughan and Johnny Win­ter as far back as the ‘90s and El­lis has come a long way since then, thanks to con­tin­u­ous tour­ing and record­ing.

“Tough Love”, El­lis’s third record for his own Heart­fixer Mu­sic la­bel, show­cases to near per­fec­tion his for­mi­da­ble tal­ents as both a gui­tar player and a song­writer.

He’s got vo­cal chops as well, which he flexes like never be­fore on tracks like All In The Name of Love, Should I Have Lied and Leave Me. He’s got one of those voices that I just never tire of, some­thing half-way be­tween Low­ell Ge­orge and Gregg All­man with a hint of J.J. Cale.

That his south­ern roots run deep are clear on this record. He’s cut from the same cloth as his gui­tar he­roes Duane All­man and Fred­die King and his good friends War­ren Haynes and Derek Trucks.

El­lis got ev­ery­thing right on this record.

And he’s be­ing ac­knowl­edged for it.

“Tough Love” has been nom­i­nated for the Blues Foun­da­tion’s 2016 Blues Mu­sic Award for rock blues al­bum of the year.

“Down­Beat Mag­a­zine’s” read­ers voted In From The Cold, “Tough Love’s” clos­ing track, as one of the 17 top blues songs of 2015, a spot­light he shares with Eric Clap­ton, Boz Scaggs and Joe Bonamassa.

It won the Blues Blast Mag­a­zine Award for rock blues al­bum.

This soul­ful mix of blues, rock, coun­try and R&B by El­lis and his rock solid band will help get me through the win­ter blahs. It just might work for you, too. Choice of­fer­ings in­clude Should I Have Lied, In From The Cold, All In The Name of Love, Leave Me, Mid­night Ride and Hard Work.

Rat­ing: 4 out of 5 stars.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Award-win­ning south­ern blues rocker Tins­ley El­lis serves up a four-star feast for the senses on Tough Love.

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