Ellis Hooks
" Another Saturday Morning "

Always Enthusiastic, But Time For Changes, (01/02/08))

This is Ellis Hooks' fifth recording in the United States, which brings him back to the label where he began his career. After three albums for Evidence, Hooks jumped to the Artemis label (anyone see any new releases from Artemis?) for his previous disc, but is now back at Evidence. Hooks has retained the same producers (Jon and Sally Tiven) and pretty much the same core group of backing musicians (the Tivens as well) for four of those five discs.

On Another Saturday Morning Hooks seems to have taken on a tougher path with his vocal style, showing us that he is not just another one-dimensional, Soul-based artist. Unfortunately there really isn't anything new going on here (other than Ellis' more consistent gritty chops) that separates Another Saturday Morning from his previous catalog of albums. Don't get me wrong, Ellis has a lot of style and is still quite young, so I am figuring and hoping that he will eventually blossom. But part of the problem might be that it is probably time for Hooks to change partners, take on a fresh new production team and surround himself with new backing musicians and songwriting collaborators. Not that there is anything wrong with the musicianship (except that Jon Tiven decided to be a one-man horn section which leaves a lot to be desired) it is just that all of Ellis' CDs sound so similar and considering his youthful age, I was anticipating more artistic growth. I have been around Ellis for several years now and I have watched his effervescent power explode right before my eyes, both in his solo performances and sitting in with the likes of the Vivino Brothers, but unfortunately I have yet to see this same power unleashed and transferred on to his studio recordings.

By the way, who did the song sequencing for this disc? Three of the best tunes, the title track, the following "You Don't Know Me," and the rocking Stones-like "The Road to Your Heart," are buried at track numbers, ten, eleven, and fifteen! Go figure?

Here is the bottom line; Ellis Hooks can light up a club with his enthusiastic persona, dynamic onstage presence, and vocal prowess. Let's hope that for his next recording Hooks can show the world what he's got, because I am sure Ellis Hooks will eventually deliver an artistically creative and a totally complete package of goods.

Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com