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VCV: Tinsley Ellis – “The Night is Easy”

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The hit television series American Idol is at least partly predicated on a notion the next pop superstar might be found on any street corner or working in a movie theater near you, needing only a chance.  From the success of singers like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, the proposition can't be entirely laughed off (even if some of the music can).

What can easily be lost in this "dream come true" theatre, is that if you turn off the television and wander down to your local clubs and bars, there are a lot of really good waiters and waitresses and substitute teachers loitering in front of bands or committing larceny by deception with a guitar.  In other words, we need a disclaimer when the real talents are performing like those we see during television commercials for cars, trucks, and motorcycles reminding us the vehicles are being driven by professional stunt drivers and we should not attempt this at home.

Listen to Tinsley Ellis and the jaded among you will think to yourself there are 1,000 guys who can do what he does and they're right… and wrong.  Ellis isn't testing the limits of blues or rock or blues-based rock.  He carved out a comfortable niche and he knocks out standard riffs with pleasant vocals.  When it comes time to solo, he's got a large bag of tricks that he's learned from a lifetime of listening and playing and imitating and improvising.  There are some discriminating listeners who will write Ellis off as a knockoff and that's a mistake.

Some boneheads would have tried to make "The Night is Easy" into a crappy power ballad or have taken themselves too seriously, feeling certain they'd stumbled on to some sort of existential truth in need of forceful expression and explanation.  Ellis keeps it simple and drives down the center of the street.  The song isn't about much and it doesn't try to be.  This is a mid-tempo song that allows him to play some echo-soaked wah-wah lead over a familiar, pleasant melody.  It sounds simple and it is, but this would be a tire fire in the hands of a lesser artist without Ellis' veteran experience.

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About Josh Hathaway

  • Joanie

    Ellis is a tricky one. He can make you shake with fear that the devil’s just about to burst through the front door. Or he can make you believe you’ve just caught a glimpse of heaven. His guitar, his voice…not necessarily remarkable, but his delivery seals the deal.

  • Josh Hathaway

    There’s something about Ellis. This is my first exposure to his music and I like him. It sounds effortless and that can cause some listeners to dismiss it as simple. That’s not fair. He’s got something going on. He may not be The Eternal Embodiment Of The Pure, Deep Blues but he’s got something to offer. It’s a damn tuneful record and this is one of the better cuts.

  • Joanie

    The Eternal Embodiment of the Pure, Deep Blues — can you say album title? That’s genius, dude.