Tinsley Ellis – Midnight Blue
Hot on the heels of his acclaimed 2013 all instrumental record ‘Get It,’ Tinsley Ellis is back with another set of scorching blues rock guitar tracks on ‘Midnight Blue.’ The ten new songs show how Ellis is a master of tone as he uses familiar themes to explore the depths of his guitar playing, vocal abilities and lyrical expression.
An obvious student of the blues Ellis delivers a classic lovers lament on the opening track “If The River Keeps Rising,’ with its thundering Levee Breaks groove, followed by the Smokestack lightning styled two beat ‘Mouth Turned Dry.’
He then gives us the core theme of the album as he declares we must “Surrender To Love,” revealing that he is also a student of the human heart. Ellis continues his celebration of love as drummer Lynn Williams rolls out the second line beat for ‘Its Not Funny,’ as he extols the virtues of his gal and then serenades her with some greasy slide guitar.
Kevin McKendree does the heavy lifting on the piano ballad ‘See No Harm,’ with Ellis offering furtive guitar stabs between his pleading vocals. Using a funky R&B groove as his platform Ellis delivers a sermon on the world’s cynicism during ‘Peace and Love,’ reminding us that those virtues are hard won commodities. We can easily forgive Ellis for the 80’s retreads of Beck and ZZ top during ‘Harder to Find’ and ‘That’s My Story,’ because his great tone and conviction see him through the efforts. The album closes with the show stopping minor blues ‘Kiss of Death,’ featuring artfully spacious instrumentation and near perfect guitar solos.
Like a master painter Tinsley Ellis carefully chose his palette to be hues of Midnight Blue for this fine canvas of blues, rock and soul.
Rick J Bowen