Blues Bytes


August 2022

Jonathan Ellison
Guitar Cry For Me
Promise2mama Music

Jonathan Ellison

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 month.

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 the vocals.

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



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