Open a can of stiff-fried southern rock, throw in a Memphis R & B mentality, chunk in some strong blues stock and simmer with a little funky soul and you get a picture of Tinsley Ellis' musical approach. A guitarist and songwriter, Tinsley makes this his tenth album, and his seventh as a solo performer. The Atlanta born Ellis built a consistent, hard-charging reputation on previous outings on Landslide, Alligator, and most recently the now-out-of-business, Capricorn Records. This first release on the Telarc label continues his musical maturation with confidence and an obvious axe mastery!
Working to backup the sessions is the engine room of bassist Phillip Skipper and drummer Scott Callison. The versatile Kevin McKendree plays the organ and piano, the rhythm guitar lines fall to Kenny Kilgore, and diggin' deep for the background vox is Donna Hopkins. Tinsley's lead guitars and vocals stand high above with such buttressing.
You'll hear Tinsley's rock-hardened approach step out on the opening title tune, "Hell Or High Water". The high-stepping gait of "Hooked" is infectious, and the haunting wah-wahhed guitar of "Mystery To Me" makes the unrequited love song dynamic. In the same vein, the six-minute "Stuck In Love" comes in as a soft tempoed, but emotive ballad stacked with sweet six-strung solos and a tortured vocal character. The passion abounds throughout cuts like the moving "Real Bad Way", the axe-fired "All I Can Do", or the deep blues-based and eight-minute "Feel No Pain".
Hear "Ten Year Day" rush through your speakers like a freight train and then settle back and let the closer, "Set Love Free", take you out on a softer half-acoustic journey. Tinsley shows his versatile grasp of styles all through this disc, which may prove to be his finest outing. Ellis' fans will love this, while new listeners will be equally charmed and seduced. Tinsley's musical road has only become wider and will definitely be more traveled with this platter added to his body of work.
Telarc International Corp.; 23307 Commerce Park Drive; Cleveland, Ohio 44122:
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