It was a few years ago that my good friend, Mark Daniel, brought Darryl Ellyson to my attention. At one time, Daniel and I were co-producing a series of country shows, he took on the music and I handled the administration and the emcee duties. It worked out well and we had fun, but I was more interested in working with blues, and he wanted to write, record, and produce.
We stayed in touch and one day he reached out to me and say he had just listened to some raw recordings from Ellyson and he thought I might like him. Those raw recordings turned into the CD, It’s Such A Shame, and I did indeed like it. I liked it a lot.
Now, Ellyson has returned with an independent follow up album, Been Out Traveling. An artist with a persistent vision, Ellyson wrote all of the music and lyrics as well as provides the lead vocals, some of the backing vocals, and plays some guitar. He’s had help from a number of friends, Velpo Robertson, Bill Roberts, and Janet Martin on guitars; Rusty Farmer and Bill Roberts on bass; Kip Willilams and Bill Roberts on drums; Kevin Simpson on sax; and Jerel Lewis, Carlos Chafin, and yes, Bill Roberts on keys.
Backing vocals include Velpo Robertson, Jerel Lewis, and Bill Roberts who apparently has six or seven clones who are all proficient in music.
Ellyson kicks off the album with the title track, Been Out Traveling, along with some speedy swamp licks. The song swings and it’s a great song to get your groove on. I’m not sure if it’s Ellyson or one of the others who is playing the slide, but whoever is doing the picking, it is a righteous sound. He’s got me intrigued and I’m looking forward to see what he’s got coming up on the rest of the album.
He follows up with some funky blues on Lovin’ You. The keys carry the song as well as the percussion and they combine to create a very cool sound. Ellyson’s voice is pretty soulful and the guitar lead is very strong. It’s kind of a retro song and I like it a lot although some blues purists may find it a bit funky for their taste.
Simpson’s sax opens up Ain’t Gonna Let You Go, and it’s a strong opening. Ellyson is going for that Chicago sound and it’s a good attempt. He’s got the vocal chops and Simpson does a good job with the sax. The rhythm section has a lot of fun and all in all it’s a pretty decent song.
More funk follows with Baby’s Love, with the bass and horns making a potent combination. It’s a solid number and it’s good to see Ellyson making some music that will get the audience up on their feet. It really makes me want to catch him live. Albums are great, but I really want to see how he connects with an audience.
I love the Floyd Cramer-esque piano opening of Lost In Your Love. This is Ellyson at his most soulful and it’s a very moving song. His lyrics are strong and his delivery is very sweet. This song could be a crossover hit if he got the right exposure. The lyrics are pure blues, and the music is gorgeous but defies being classified. One of my favorites…
He picks up the pace and adds a little funk to Pushin’ Against My Heart. It’s a great blues tune that can get you up and moving around. Ellyson likes to rock a little bit and this is one of those songs that gives him a chance. There’s a little edge to his voice, but whomever is playing lead adds even more.
The Sweet Times starts out with a little slide over the rhythm section. Ellyson pours emotion into the ballad and his vocals are strong. He keeps the music tight and it’s another solid offering. Ellyson and his other guitarists have turned in consistent high quality work.
He follows up with another gorgeous ballad, Everything I Do. I would be willing to bet that whoever played keys on this one also played on Lost In Your Love. They sound very much alike musically and Ellyson delivers his vocals in a similar manner. This one has an old-school country feel to it and that’s a sound I greatly enjoy. It’s another winner, although it’s not a particular bluesy song. But Ellyson doesn’t claim allegiance to one genre, he likes to sample from several and let the song dictate the approach. To me, it’s another winner.
Now the blues are definitely back on I’m Gone. The guitar sets the tone and the rhythm section provide the backbone. Ellyson’s got an edge to his voice on this one and the song really packs a punch. This is one that could see some airplay on Time For The Blues, I can tell you several of the songs on the album will be gracing our airwaves soon.
He closes out things with Won’t Include You. Some very cool drums open followed by the keys and Ellyson is deep in blues territory on this song. The lyrics are sharp – he’s always been an interesting lyricist – and his delivery is dead on. This is a song that has some good legs, it just needs that little push to be heard by more people.
That’s always the issue, isn’t it? So many great artists are making great music and there just aren’t enough airwaves to accommodate them all. Or shelf space for those of us who like to have the physical copies of these great albums.
So far I’ve heard two of Darryl Ellyson’s albums, and I’ve enjoyed them both. I’ll be sharing several of these songs – and maybe one from the first album – with you. I like his writing and I like his playing. He’s surrounded himself with talented musicians who can deliver on his artistic dream.
I don’t know how Ellyson defines success. If it’s producing a great album, then he is one of the most successful men out there. Been Out Traveling is a fine album and I will be rooting for more people to discover it – and its creator.
Ellyson doesn’t appear to have a website, at least that I can find, but he does have a presence here: https://www.reverbnation.com/darrylellysonbluelightdistrict where you can pick up his albums and see where he’s going to be. Since he’s close to where I live, you just might find me at one of those shows. Or maybe more than one…