A Conversation With Tinsley Ellis

Words by Carson Rich 

A singer-songwriter from Atlanta, Tinsely Ellis has been blessing fans’ ears with sounds of rock, folk and blues for over three decades now. His influence spreads wildly among today’s artists as his discography exemplifies nothing short of timeless symphonies. “Folio” had the opportunity to speak with him ahead of the release of his new album “Naked Truth” that is set to drop Feb. 9, 2024.

FOLIO: When listening to your work, I can hear a lot of influences from the likes of the folk, blues, country, and rock. Was there an idea behind this, to make songs that do not sound like any of the traditional music we might hear?

ELLIS: This is my first all acoustic album. I wanted to make sure it held a mirror up to all the music I love. Blues is my first love, but I also listen to a lot of rock music from the ’60s and ’70s. 

FOLIO: Your new single, “Devil in the Room”, features a very dark, grungy type of tone that brings me toward an older ’90s and early post-grunge sound that I used to love. What was the inspiration behind this?

ELLIS: That song was influenced by the hill country blues musician R.L. Burnside. There’s a semi-distorted foot stomp in it that has a very lo-fi quality to it. It’s probably my favorite song on the new album. 

FOLIO: What can you tell us about your new album, “Naked Truth” ahead of its release? Is there a main theme or mood that you are trying to set?

ELLIS: The album is very representative of the show I’m doing now where I include my love for both rock and blues music. I kept the songs mostly up tempo. I didn’t want the album to be too pensive or morose. I think fans of my live shows will really like the music on this album. 

FOLIO: You have been creating music for over three decades now, when you look back on your career or discography, do you try to incorporate any of your older sounds into your new releases or do you enjoy the evolution of your art?

ELLIS: These are all new songs on this album. But in my live shows I do songs from every decade of my recording career which dates back to 1981. 

FOLIO: Who would you say has inspired you the most along your musical journey and why?

ELLIS: I’m from Georgia and Florida so it’s safe to say that the Allman Brothers Band has been my biggest musical influence. I love the way they mix blues, jazz and psychedelic rock and roll into a perfect musical concoction. 

FOLIO: What advice would you give to someone starting out in their music career based on your experiences so far? Is there anything that you might wish you had done differently?

ELLIS: I would urge anyone starting out in music to write, record and perform their own material as much as possible. That would give them their own sound. I wish I hadn’t waited into my 30s to do this. 

FOLIO: If you had to come up with one, what message would you want fans to walk away with after hearing your music for the first time?

ELLIS: I want my music to take people away from their struggles and worries. I feel like that should be the mission statement of all entertainers.

About Carson Rich

Throughout his childhood, you could always find Carson Rich with his eyes glued to the screen watching Sportcenter every morning before school. Now as an aspiring sports journalist at Folio Weekly, he looks to take after the people he used to look up to. Even when he is not writing about sports, he's usually at home binging old highlights or catching up on the latest news in sports.