TINSLEY ELLIS' NEW ALBUM, NAKED TRUTH, RELEASED TOMORROW, FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 9
Relix Magazine Premieres New Video For "Death Letter Blues" Today,
Thursday, February 8
An exciting, emotional guitarist and a strong, evocative songwriter…One of modern blues’ greatest performers.
A legend of American blues music…An American music treasure…Ellis delivers a sermon on the power and glory of the blues.
Powerful, spine-tingling guitar and gritty, soulful vocals.
On Friday, February 9, Atlanta-based guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Tinsley Ellis' new album, Naked Truth, will be released on Alligator Records. On Naked Truth (his 21st album), Ellis swaps his blistering, guitar-fueled full band performances 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.
Today, Thursday, February 8, Relix magazine premieres the new video for the song Death Letter Blues. Originally recorded by blues icon Son House, Tinsley's take on the blues classic was produced by fellow Atlanta blues guitar slinger, Eddie 9V.
Of the song, Ellis says, "Son House’s Death Letter Blues is one of the greatest Delta blues songs of all time. It has been the centerpiece of my acoustic performances for a long time. Eddie 9V’s gritty, low-fi production gave it the perfect hard edge. On this song I’m playing my 1937 National O series steel resonator guitar with a brass slide."
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.
According to Relix, "Naked Truth jockeys between impassioned in-the-moment spontaneity and a studied craftman's sense of nuance."
Ellis' massive, months-long solo-acoustic Naked Truth tour kicks off in Decatur, Georgia on Friday, February 9. "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."
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.
According to Ellis, “In this format there’s a new depth to the emotion of my music. When it’s just you, your voice and your guitar, you have to deliver raw, honest emotion to your audience. You can’t just give them volume, energy and exciting playing. The audience has to feel what you’re putting into the song and has to believe you. When I play and sing in the solo acoustic format, there is truly nowhere to hide. I can’t hide behind a loud, distorted guitar. I can’t hide behind a drum beat or a bass line. It’s just me and my instrument, stripped bare of the other players and their various instruments. In a way, it’s a form of confession. It’s the artist’s most honest musical statement of his or her songs.”
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.” Rolling Stone declared, "His eloquence dazzles.”