It was a case of interim Dennis Ellsworth as he punctuated a short UK visit to play a couple of shows which gave fans an update on his current situation. It also provided a timely reminder as to why he has garnered so much praise since the decision to export his talents was made. With a new album slated for release in September, Dennis took the option to reflect upon his whole career as songs from all tenses were dissected, analysed and primarily delivered in his genuine magnanimous style.
Having previously seen Dennis play a storming late night full band festival set and open for Leeroy Stagger back in 2013, this was a far more revelatory opportunity to grasp him as a performer, songwriter and partially as a person, although the latter is tempered by the stage façade. He comes across as a stoical and sincere figure on stage, while his meticulous approach to write moving and passionate songs is a testament to an intelligent stance on the whole sphere of the inspiration to his art. For nearly two hours in this Shropshire community venue, Dennis permeated the minds of his audience with a prepossessing form of inter song musing which majorly focussed on the writing process and succeeded in bridging the many miles between Prince Edward Island, Canada and the music scene in the old country.
With the new album in the can and now titled ROMANTIC AS IT GETS, Dennis is itching to get the songs out into the wider world, yet taking the considered approach of letting the summer months roll away before launching the record. Three of the songs selected for airing this evening had the full package of explanation as their aperitif. Therefore the location of the writing of ‘Full Moon Blues’ was revealed as sitting contemplatively on the shoreline of his hometown Charlottetown on the Canadian maritime coast, while ‘Beauty is Sad’ was inspired by thoughts of Billie Holiday while frequenting a record store. The trio was completed by the renewed life of a fallen tree in the borrowed title ‘Mercy Doll’, just to give a diverse flavour to his subjects.
Drawing inspiration from other songwriters is another track for his craft as exemplified in the song ‘Harry Nilsson’s Heart’ lifted from his 2013 record HAZY SUNSHINE, an album which also supplied the excellent number ‘Rudderless Day’ to this evening’s offerings. Like so many Canadian artists, a Neil Young song made an appearance with Dennis choosing to close the show with his version of ‘Powderfinger’. However it was English folk artist John Smith who has had the most profound effect on Dennis since they first hooked up as writing companions a few years ago. ‘Perfect Storm’ and ‘Forever to an End’ were two results of their collaboration with the former being one of the top tunes from his handful of previous albums to date. ‘Electric Stars’ was another personal favourite from 2012’s DUSK DREAMS to make the cut for the show.
The transition from totally solo writing, as most graphically described in the song ‘I Thought My Name Was Dark Clouds’, to now considering collaboration as an important part of his arsenal was explained during the evening. This culminated with reference to a recent writing project with Donovan Woods. We also had an insight to the historical aspect of Dennis being part of the band Haunted Hearts and how his most recent record LOVE KNOWS LOVE was a low key affair designed to be a home for older leftover tracks with its intended marketing policy being mainly gig merchandise sales.
The wider music community including the UK are going to hear a lot more of Dennis Ellsworth in the near future. A dedicated tour is lined up to support the new album and for those of you who put a high value on the importance of the acutely crafted song, then the soft persuasive vocals of Dennis sharing his wares is an engaging and enticing way to expend your listening time.