MUSIC REVIEW: DENNIS ELLSWORTH - HAZY SUNSHINE

PEI's Ellsworth is in fine form these days as a songwriter, following up his 2012 Dusk Dreams album with another full release already. It's his fifth solo disc, along with his work with Haunted Hearts, and he's reaching new levels each time. This time out, he's produced by Skydigger Josh Finlayson, someone who knows what good songwriting is all about, and how to turn that into a tight, well-presented package. For the this album, the pair concentrate on the core of each number, the fine vocal delivery by Ellsworth, the impact of the words, and the soft, sweet melodies.

5c0faf28563d24f88c54698bac84faec_f1091.jpg
Instead of turning up, there are plenty of calm, soothing songs on Hazy Sunshine. Ellsworth's almost crooning to us, a more subtle Burton Cummings tone to his voice, and I mean that with great respect, as there's lots of emotion and strength. Behind him, the band is solid but never loud, even the guitar leads and drums kept lower than Ellsworth's voice. A major instrument throughout is the violin played by fellow Islander Kinley Dowling (Hey Rosetta!), who also provides harmonies, and that's her father Alan on drums. Tom Bovaconti from Ron Sexsmith's band handled much of the electric guitar, and Finlayson and Maize add Skydigger harmonies to the grand tune Harry Nilsson's Heart. Another standout is Coke Machine Glow, a Gord Downie lyric-poem for which Ellsworth composed a new melody. But Ellsworth's words more than stand up to those standards, and nature, from sunshine to cliff edges, shows up in most every song, a search for earthly paradise.

Ellsworth is on the road, launching the disc at shows near home, before heading to the U.K. for November and December. You can see him at the Sanctuary Theatre in Saint John Oct. 25, the Cedar Tree in Fredericton Oct. 26, and at the Carleton in Halifax Oct. 30.

more »

Latest East Coast Music Reviews

Tomato/Tomato top the awards nominations for Music NB
Tomato/Tomato top the awards nominations for Music NB
Sep 21, 1:15 PM

Saint John folk duo Tomato/Tomato lead the way in this year's nominations for Music New Brunswick awards. The husband-and-wife team has grabbed six nominations, including those for Album of the Year, Group Recording of the Year and Song of the... more »

 Hot Toddy reunion a Harvest highlight
Hot Toddy reunion a Harvest highlight
Sep 20, 6:05 PM

On stage at Fredericton's Playhouse on Saturday, the members of Hot Toddy had more to share than just music. Bass player Tom Easley had brought along a band tour journal that had been kept in the van from 2001-2003, full... more »

Samantha Martin brings exciting blues-gospel vocals to Harvest Fest
Samantha Martin brings exciting blues-gospel vocals to Harvest Fest
Sep 18, 3:58 PM

The Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival is well-known for introducing new, exciting acts to the East Coast that wouldn't normally tour in this area.  They might be from Los Angeles or New Orleans, or some of the best Canadian groups... more »

Steve Hill brings Juno-winning, one-man band to Harvest
Steve Hill brings Juno-winning, one-man band to Harvest
Sep 17, 3:58 PM

As the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival celebrates its 25th year, several favourite acts from the past have been invited back, including some that haven't been around for quite awhile. Even though he lives in Montreal, this year's Juno Award-winning... more »

EARTHBOUND TRIO launches new album at Harvest gig
EARTHBOUND TRIO launches new album at Harvest gig
Sep 16, 3:51 PM

How busy is Fredericton during Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival week? It's delaying some Federal government work, that's how busy. A friend of mine, a government employee from another city, e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago to say she... more »

Amy Helm continuing Dad Levon's legacy at Harvest fest
Amy Helm continuing Dad Levon's legacy at Harvest fest
Sep 15, 3:06 PM

It was a Harvest show that went down as a classic for the people crowding in the Blues tent in 2011. Levon Helm and his great big 13-piece band rolled into Fredericton for the jazz and blues festival, and stole... more »

View all reviews for September 2015 »

About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).

Share this review