Winning Hand is Tinsley Ellis's 19th album spanning a career across three decades, after establishing a home town reputation in Atlanta, Georgia, and drawing comparisons with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and his friend Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Ellis' affinity for the blues has been a hallmark of his long career, albeit with a rock edge. As you would expect from the years of honing his sound on the road, the music here is focused and tight, but still exhibiting a raw edge.
The songs range from blasting workouts like Nothing But Fine, I Got Mine and Kiss This World to the stunning angst and moody vibes of Gamblin' Man.
And yes, Ellis is an original, with every tune on Winning Hand self-written, with the exception of Dixie Lullaby, his heart-felt tribute to two of his heroes, Leon Russell, and fellow guitarist Freddie King.
Okay, it's a bit early for picking the best releases of 2018, but I can say for sure that Ellis' Winning Hand will be a contender when the deal is done.