On Friday, February 9, Atlanta-based guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Tinsley Ellis' new album, Naked Truth, was 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.
On 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."