The pandemic largely torpedoed Tinsley Ellis’ tour dates in support of the excellent Ice Cream in Hell, so the veteran bluesman retreated to his Atlanta base and began tinkering with guitars, amplifiers, tones, and more. What ultimately emerged were 200 original songs, 10 of which he selected for this new album.
It’s no secret that Ellis is a fiery, exciting guitarist – and there’s plenty of that on Devil May Care. The first two tracks, “One Less Reason” (featuring Ellis’ 1967 ES-345 through a ’65 Deluxe Reverb) and “Right Down the Drain” are both satisfying, five-minute blues-rock workouts. “Juju” – a slide number played on an ’82 Gibson Moderne – and “One Last Ride” are both unmistakably Allmanesque in sound and spirit.
But Ellis’ chops share the spotlight with an increasingly strong profile as a songwriter. “Just Like Rain” is a tune with love and relationships at its lyrical core. “Don’t Bury Our Love” makes a slow-burning emotional appeal, with Ellis’ yearning ’59 Strat playing the part of a second vocalist.
Throughout the album, Ellis delivers evocative blues with Covid-imposed isolation serving as a creative catalyst.
This article originally appeared in VG’s April 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.