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Review: Tawny Ellis Shines on Her Latest Release, 'I To You'

There's a lot of great music coming out in 2011, so much that it's hard to keep track of -- let alone review -- everything. But I'd like to start doing just that -- reviewing albums that might otherwise pass under your radar.

Of course, nothing's stopping me from checking out albums that are so "on your radar" that they simply can't be avoided. But somehow I've let 2011 albums by Wilco, Pavement's Stephen Malkmus and X's John Doe go by without even a mention on this website!

That's, like, really stupid.

With that in mind, here's a quick review of the latest release by Tawny Ellis, a longtime staple of the Los Angeles music scene. It comes out Tuesday, October 11.

I TO YOU,Tawny Ellis, Music Building Records

I To You, the fourth studio album by Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Tawny Ellis, is a deep (like the Yankees' bullpen is deep), texturally rich, mostly acoustic affair; it's also -- without a doubt -- her finest release to date.

For starters, it is beautifully and simply recorded, showing off the clarity and timbre of each instrument, perhaps the most pleasing of which is Ellis' voice. It's the sort of voice one could make a meal of, in the vein of Neko Case or Ray LaMontagne, and her texturally rich music calls to mind the work of those artists -- not to mention country singers from years, if not ages, past.

Ellis, a native of Savannah, Georgia, calls upon her Southern roots at will, injecting several tracks with a homespun, often smoky, feel. Highlights include the title track, "Why Can't I Be Her," "I Don't Want to Fight" and her killer cover of Bob Dylan's "One More Cup of Coffee." But there's more than enough variety in context, tempo and instrumentation to keep the album interesting, with one surprise after another.

For more info about Ellis, click here.

Damian Fanelli, the online managing editor at Guitar World, has performed around the world as a member of Mister Neutron, The Blue Meanies (the New York version) and/or The Gas House Gorillas. He loves anything associated with Quebec, which is why he's really into Godin and Richmond guitars at the moment.

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Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas (opens in new tab), was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron (opens in new tab), a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (opens in new tab). He now plays in two NYC-area bands.