delta blues

A man and the blues: Tinsley Ellis performs in concert with his 1969 Martin D-35, which was a gift from his father.

Photo by Kim Reed

On his new album, the blues-guitar badass steps away from the crackling electric performances that have won him an international reputation for a bristling trip through acoustic-roots music.

Acoustic blues is a form of interdimensional travel. And on his new album, Naked Truth, Tinsley Ellis displays his mastery of being everywhere, all at once. I’d say that he has one foot in the red clay of the Delta and the dust of Africa, where the music arose from; another in the present, because breathing life into this style requires committed intention; and another in the future, where his own songs and selection of covers urge the genre. But that would be a weird choice of metaphor, because, like most of us, he only has two feet.

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