Jelly Ellington 2017
Ready for a breakout, American tunesmith prepares a smorgasbord of tasty sounds.
Jonathan Ellington’s name and nickname may suggest he’s a piano player yet, in reality, this Austin-based artist is a mean guitarist. His axe chops are but a means to serve up memorable songs, though, and the inclusiveness of Jelly’s debut feels oozes class. Dealing in the feel of liberty – still, there’s no escaping from funky opener “Set Me Free” with its arresting handclaps and juicy organ which spin around a sharp riff – Ellington’s perky delivery is infectiously engaging, while the transparent “Getaway” is a country-rock refuge. Still, the desperate expanse behind “Let Go” and Philly G’s rhymes in the number’s heart betray the bluesy foundation of what’s going on here.
For all its heaviness, the catchy “Crosstown” can scale the charts and bring a vibrato into many a home, and the ivories-driven “Hard Times Coming Down” is warm enough to stay there. But if the vocals and brass punch on “New Day” feel brazenly soulful, soft licks that caress “Sunset” come rather sparse, if precious, to embroider the groove, the piece’s twangy solo making it clear why Berklee diploma was handed to Jelly by Jimmy Page. Even more unexpectedly, “Wait For You” has orchestral wave – genuine strings – to elevate its acoustic strum to celestial heights and turn short ballad into promise which will linger on as an aftertaste until Ellington follows “All In” with an even mightier offering to prove this “all” is not all at all, and there’s more to him.