Tinsley Ellis – Winning Hand | Album Review

Tinsley Ellis – Winning Hand


Alligator Records

10 songs time – 48:40

Atlanta, Georgia native Tinsley Ellis has lost none of his blues-rock powers as he presents this, his nineteenth album in a decades long career. His guitar chops are intact whether charging full steam ahead or in a more mellow groove. His gritty voice fits the songs to a “T”. He enlists a basic band of bass, drums and keyboards here with no outside help. Tinsley wrote all the songs save one. As Jimmy Thackery has of late taken to mostly spacey instrumentals, Tinsley is the rightful king of blues rock.

Songs like “Sound Of A Broken Man”, “Gamblin’ Man” and “Saving Grace” showcase his killer guitar chops and tone. They are right up there with his finest moments. The theme of “I Got Mine” is keep your paws off of my girl. It probably features the most bluesy guitar playing of the set. “Kiss This World” and “Satisfied” are two flat out rockers with the latter featuring some nice Chuck Berry-ish guitar and the piano playing of Kevin Mckendree that owes a debt to the “Killer”, Jerry Lee Lewis.

Tinsley is just as adept as turning in slower and mellower fare as proudly on display on “Autumn Run” and “Don’t Turn Off The Light”. The only real misstep here for me is his take on Leon Russell’s “Dixie Lullaby”. The music is just fine, but his vocals don’t cut it for me. Maybe I’m just used to Leon’s joyous “Okie” drawl. Hey, a minor quibble, maybe just a question of taste.

As long as Tinsley carries on this level of guitar-fired energy and song writing, blues-rock aficionados are in for years of killer music. Although you can categorize his music as blues-rock, he retains the deep soul of a bluesman. Guitar lovers and music fans in general are surely going to find much pleasure in this CD. You just can’t miss with this one. The guy possesses magic in his fingers. Heck his pipes aren’t anything to sniff at either. Do yourself and your ears a favor and snatch this one up. While you’re at it, catch his current tour. Saw him a few years back at a blues festival, quite a show!

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