Guitar Cry For Me
The name Jonathan Ellison was new to me
when I received the long-overdue album for Silent Partners (reviewed
this month). Ellison is the guitarist and singer in that trio,
replacing the late Mel Brown from the early '90s combo when they
last released an album. In wondering what else the young Mr.
Ellison has done in his career, I found his wonderful
self-released album from 2017, Guitar Cry For Me. If I
could go back five years, this disc would undoubtedly rank as
one of the best for that year. But since time travel is still a
thing of the future, we will cover it as the Flashback for this
Ellison is a strong blues guitarist and a singer
adept at both blues and soul. With a tight band and plenty of
horn sound behind him, the songs on Guitar Cry For Me
seamlessly cross back and forth between blues, soul and
soul/blues. With only a digital version of the album available I
couldn't find the names of the backing musicians, but trust me
when I say that it's a solid group of musicians joining Ellison
for the session.
Opening the album is the title cut, arguably the
best song here. It's a solid mid-tempo blues, with Ellison
conveying plenty of raw emotion into his guitar work. It's Song
Of The Year quality stuff. Up next is another strong blues
number, "Lyin' Eyes," on which he expresses regret to his woman
about the time he strayed from their relationship for a
one-night stand. Ellison moves into the soul/blues category,
geting more projection from his voice on the up-tempo "Leave
Well Enough Alone."
Ellison takes it to the islands on the
Caribbean-flavored "Keep Going," as he inspires himself to keep
moving ahead without the help of his woman. I sense a heavy
Malaco Records vibe on the mid-tempo soul/blues, "Sweeter the
Girl," followed by the straight-ahead soul number, "Lady in the
Street," a catchy tune with horns and synthesized strings behind
It's back to the blues with Ellison showing off
his guitar chops on the slow blues number, "Outside Love Affair,
and then the horn section gives us a big wall of sound for the
intro to the mid-tempo shuffle, "One Good Love."
Ellison lays down a harder blues sound on guitar
on the up-tempo "Why Do You Treat Me So Bad," really showing off
his talents on the instrument. "I Won't Let You Down" gets a
little too schmaltzy and sentimental for my tastes but it's not
bad, especially when our star lays down a nice guitar solo.
Guitar Cry For Me closes with a real
surprise, a soulful, inspirational version of U2's "I Still
Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." An interesting choice of
covers but it works, and is a nice ending to a fantastic album.
Okay, I've decided that we CAN rewrite history.
Guitar Cry For Me now ranks among the top three albums
for 2017, sparring with Samantha Fish's Chills & Fever
and Selwyn Birchwood's Pick Your Poison for the best
album of the year. You likely also missed out on Jonathan
Ellison five years ago, so I recommend you track down the files
for Guitar Cry For Me somewhere. Bonus points if you can
find the actual CD.
--- Bill Mitchell