Record Review – Betse Ellis Don’t You Want to Go? – Free Dirt Records

Fiddle fans prepare for a diaper change. Betse Elles first solo outing is a humdinger, yeah you heard me. My dinger was hummed….

Ms. Elles, best known as fiddler and vocalist Kansas City MO. roots band The Wilders, and Don’t You Want To Go is here first solo outing and it shows a level of skill and bravado only within reach of an accomplished musician. The type of musicians that can move between genres with grace…sometimes within the same song, and make it all cohesive and shimmer with beauty. Old time Ozark mountain music, smokey-hussy blues, classical…all here and seamless.

White River is  a traditional Ozark fiddle piece that would nicely set the mood for a Kenneth Burns sepia-soaked documentary. The traditional ode to that “The Steel Driving Man” John Henry is an impassioned voice and fiddle piece that swerves and dives at you like a jay bird. Run is a Elles original instrumental that you can imagine sparks flying off the gut strings and Looking The World Over is a Memphis Minnie sourced pout-and-swagger blues wailer that is unfortunately void of any fiddle (!). Bear Creek Sally Goodin makes up for the lack of fsawin‘ in the previous piece by taking me back into the Mountains for some stompin‘ and some ‘shine. Another Night is and original Elles alt.folk piece that sounds like it could have been written for Cat Powers.

The rustic vibe is broken with Jean Gabriel Marie composition La Cinquantaine and we are taken to the  drawing room for some tasteful chamber music,chamber but then we are shooed out the back and into a barn dance with the taditional Walk Along John.

This a fine solo outing for an already accomplished musician. Let’s hope it’s not the last.

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