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Ellison, Ulrich: Dreaming In The House Of Blues
Having been the Ulrich Ellison Trio, then the Ulrich Ellison Tribe, the Austrian blues guitarist has decided to simply go out under his own name as he starts Dreaming In The House Of Blues. Whatever those dreams contain, Ellison is a man who can capture his nighttime thoughts and weave them into a beautifully crafted, but modern blues rock album that reminds of the greats while more than competing with the current crop.
If you could imagine the more rocked up, dare I say commercial, side of Joe Bonamassa and infuse it with the more bluesy feel Joe Satriani employs in the laid back moments of Chickenfoot, then you wouldn't be a million miles from the remarkably fluid motion of Ellison as he works the frets. Although, the touch of Hendrix or Trower are never all that far away. Vocally there's also a slight comparison with Satch, although in this case we have a sublimely singing guitarist, rather than a guitarist who happens to sometimes reach for the mic. What sets this bluesman aside however, is his willingness to welcome keyboards into his sound without it ever feeling like a compromise. Instead these contributions, split between Jan Fleming, Darrell Commander and Ellison himself across the album, lock in tight with guitar playing which fuels up the superb "Running On Empty", and pays its dues on "Feeling Like A Rich Man"; the pair of songs starkly different but beautifully linked by a clear love of the blues. Something Ellison and his band bring to each and every one of the 18 tracks (79 minutes, no less!) featured. The latter is a laid back funk filled filibuster, all about mood, atmosphere and, of course, some scintillating moves on the guitar. Whereas the former is a smoother, slicker, more vocal led track that still knows how to hit hard.
That, however, doesn't cover the half of it, Ulrich's good lady wife, Sabine, giving an expert showing on bass and providing some serious backing vocals, while rock solid drum and percussion work lands mightily from both Joel Duhon and Michael Anthony Davila. This gaggle of master blaster bluesmen and women just as comfortable revelling in the upbeat surge of "I'm Down", the traditional blues with a current glint of "Wallflower" or gently funky pop and plunder (listen to those Stevie Wonder like keyboards!) of "Sitting On Top Of The World". Impressively in a genre known for them, there's only one cover version, the Muddy Waters classic "Rollin' And Tumblin" metamorphosed into something that a merger of Hendrix and ZZ Top might be proud to call their own, the tribal drums and call and response vocal-guitar trade offs simply intoxicating.
It's impossible to name-check every song on an album so long and where the sublime standard simply never drops, but all you really need to know is that Dreaming In The House Of Blues is the sort of collection of songs that you just can't tire of listening to again and again. In a genre almost fit to bursting with guitarists and composers desperately trying to be the next big thing, Ulrich Ellison isn't worried about any of that hyperbolic nonsense. Instead busying himself with making his dreams come true and delivering one of 2017 most accomplished albums in the process.
2. TEN FEET TALL
3. RIVER OF LIFE
4. RUNNING ON EMPTY
5. I HAD A DREAM
6. ROLLIN' AND TUMBLIN'
7. FEELING LIKE A RICH MAN
8. LOOKING FOR LOVE
9. I'M DOWN
11. MESSIN' AROUND
12. SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD
13. WAY DOWN ON THE GROUND
14. CHASING DOWN YOUR DREAM
16. MY MARYANN
17. WAITING FOR A BETTER DAY
18. JUST YOU
Added: August 18th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Dreaming In The House Of Blues at The Grooveyard
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