Hailing from San Diego, CA, Brett Ellis gives us his 11th recording – Redemption at the Mojo Circus. Brett has been part of the CA music scene since the ’80s and was originally a rock player who has worked hard to craft a style of blues rock that is uniquely his own. He combines rock rhythms over a blues format and throws in rapid fire bebop jazz influenced guitar solos that are atypical for the blues.
The first three tracks on the album roar out of the gate. “My Own Way” starts things out and “Keeping The Rock Alive,” which is a basically Grooveyard Records Mission statement put to music are sure to satisfy your need to rock. “Complain” has spoken word sections combined with the chorus section to give the song a Henry Rollins “Liar” vibe just at a much faster tempo.
Things slow down a bit for “Nine Tons of Soul” at least for the first minute of the song. After that we are back to rocking it out. Brett is correct when he says “You all can steal licks, and if you could you wouldn’t sound like me.” His solos are so rapid fire and harmonically unpredictable because of the alternative scales that he utilizes which gives him a unique sound that is all his own. Things get a little confused with the almost 12 minute “Freight Train,” which starts out with three minutes of guitar shredding soloing that doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the song. While it showcases his pyrotechnic fret board skills it thankfully just sort of fades away to a quite excellent acoustic blues line that is the basis for the rest of obvious double entendre filled jam.
Then things get really interesting with the sensitive “As Much as The Blues,” which is where Brett’s slow blues chops really shine. This is followed with the growling “Furthest In The Sky,” which is a rolling dark, brooding bass filled ride. “Peacemaker” is a good blues and “Like A Man” with its didgeridoo filled opening fill the remained of the time until we get to the excellent “Blues is Everything” to close the album out.
Brett Ellis uses his unique guitar skills mastered over his career to combine the skills of a guitar shredder with jazz influenced harmonic lines over basic blues forms to deliver a distinctive blues rock sound. If you’re a fan of the guitar shredders of the late ’80s and ’90s but want something slightly different yet contained in a blues experience then Redemption at the Mojo Circus is going to be the right choice for you.
The Review: 8/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– My Own Way
– As Much As The Blues
– Further in The Sky
– Blues is Everything
The Big Hit
– As Much As The Blues
Review by Kevin O’Rourke