Tinsley Ellis’ guitar playing melts on ‘Ice Cream In Hell’

Tinsley Ellis’ tasty “Ice Cream in Hell” on Alligator Records drops Jan. 31.
Alligator Records

Southern bluesman Tinsley Ellis is back with “Ice Cream In Hell,” his 17th album, available on Alligator Records. 

Ellis is known for his consistency throughout his 40-year career, blues guitar prowess, gravely vocals and workmanlike production. He often plays 150-plus shows per year and has had a distinguished career that has involved working with the Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule, Col. Bruce Hampton, Derek Trucks, Coco Montoya, jamming with Stevie Ray Vaughan, and being an overall staple of the modern blues circuit. 

This newest album pays homage to a few influences. Lead track “Last One To Know” elicits a very reminiscent “Born Under A Bad Sign” vibe, but by design, just like “Sit Tight Mama” gives all the feels of Hound Dog Taylor. “Everything and Everyone” brings out the minor blues “Black Magic Woman” mood of Peter Green.

“Foolin’ Yourself” is a good time. “Don’t Know Beans” is low brow and groovy but is plenty of fun. Final track “Your Love’s Like Heroin” goes pretty dark and deep, to grandiose success. The solo makes the entire album for me. Like, go out and get this album so you can listen to the guitar work on this particular song. It’s that incendiary and spectacular, in my opinion. 

The production is solid. Nothing too slick. Great guitar tone. Ellis’ vocals feel real and not over-produced. If you dig Tinsley Ellis, you’ll be feeling good about this release. Going off his own words, “there’s more guitar than ever.” I’m listening. 

— Jon Siembieda

Tinsley Ellis
‘Ice Cream In Hell’
Jan. 31, 2020
Label: Alligator Records
Local appearance: Sunday, March 15, The Saint, midtown Reno.

About Jon Siembieda

Writer Jon Siembieda plays guitar in the Southern California-based touring rock 'n' roll band Hunter & The Dirty Jacks. He is an avid concertgoer and album collector. His top five favorite bands are The Rolling Stones, Black Crowes, Faces, Mother Hips and Chris Robinson Brotherhood.

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