Tinsley Ellis with Opening Act TBA
According to Atlanta-based blues guitarist, singer and songwriter Tinsley Ellis, his new, first-ever solo acoustic album, Naked Truth, is both “a departure and an arrival.” Ellis has been recording and travelling the world for over four decades, delivering his feral, guitar-fueled, original electric blues-rock to ever-growing audiences at concert halls, festivals, and clubs. Naked Truth is steeped in the folk blues traditions of Muddy Waters, Skip James, Son House, Robert Johnson and even Leo Kottke. To the casual fan, this might seem to be a new direction, but for Ellis, it’s an extension of his music, as he taps into the raw essence of the blues. “This is a record I’ve always wanted to make, and one that my longtime fans have been asking for,” he says, noting he’s included an acoustic mini-set in his concert performances for years. In the last 12 months, Ellis has already performed over 100 solo shows, many as co-bills with his Alligator label-mate Marcia Ball. “I’m having so much fun playing these shows,” he says.
On Naked Truth (his 21st album), Ellis swaps his blistering, guitar-fueled full band workouts for equally passionate, soul-searching acoustic folk blues. His famed guitar chops and musical creativity are on full display throughout the album’s 12 songs, including nine newly written originals. Naked Truth was produced by Ellis, with the foot-stomping cover of Son House’s Death Letter Blues produced by Atlanta roots musician Eddie 9V. The album was recorded live in the studio using Ellis’ beloved 1969 Martin D-35 (a gift from his father) and his 1937 National Steel O Series guitars. Whether intricately fingerpicking the Martin or playing hair-raising slide on the National Steel, Ellis delivers each song with unvarnished intimacy.
Tinsley Ellis has been immersed in music his whole life. Born in Atlanta 1957 and raised in southern Florida, he acquired his first guitar at age seven, inspired by seeing The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. He took to guitar instantly, developing and sharpening his skills as he grew up.
Now, with Naked Truth, Ellis will bring his music directly to his fans. “Two guitars and a car,” he says of the simplicity of his North American touring situation. “When folks come to see me, I’ll have the guitars I used on the record with me, so what fans hear on the album is what they’ll get live. It’s not easy. Now I’m the whole band and there’s nowhere to hide. It’s scary every single time I go up on stage alone. But nothing could be more honest.”
Naked Truth is a revelation. Stripped of the electric fervor that defined his previous works, Ellis’ acoustic music carries a rawness that speaks directly from his soul. The songs unveil another side of Tinsley Ellis, but one that is totally recognizable to his fans. His gruff, full-throated vocals intertwine seamlessly with the bare, acoustic arrangements, creating an album that is both timeless and immediate. No Depression says, “Ellis shines. When the tempo slows, the intensity doesn’t waver.” Blues Music Magazine states, “Tinsley Ellis is a powerful and commanding presence. His music is impossible not to enjoy.”