Blues for the winter blahs

Doug Gallant
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

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

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

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 and www.mojo4 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.

Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his music review column for The Guardian every week. He welcomes comments from readers at or 629-6000, ext. 6057.

Organizations: The Guardian

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Sharon
    January 09, 2016 - 17:07

    Had the pleasure of hearing the album. It'll rock your soul.