Five Questions With… Dennis Ellsworth

The acclaimed roots songsmith from PEI mixes things up on his new album, enlisting Joel Plaskett to produce and play guitar. Ellsworth cites '90s rock as an inspiration for the sound of the record.

Five Questions With… Dennis Ellsworth

By Jason Schneider

When deciding to call his new album Things Change, Dennis Ellsworth took it as a personal directive. After making four fine—but criminally underappreciated—albums that straddled the line between alt-country and power pop, the Prince Edward Island native knew it was time to make a major statement.

To do so, he called upon Joel Plaskett to take the helm as producer, and he didn’t hesitate to take the extra step of playing guitar on the record alongside a rhythm section comprised of his longtime drummer, Dave Marsh, and fellow Halifax indie rock legend Charles Austin, on bass. The results on Things Change are a brilliant convergence of Ellsworth’s finely honed songwriting chops with Plaskett’s vintage sonic approach.


In the past, Ellsworth has never hesitated to seek out the right people for specific projects. It’s led him to build an impressive body of work in conjunction with producer David Barbe (Drive-By Truckers, Sugar), along with CanRock heroes such as Josh Finlayson (Skydiggers, Gord Downie), Hugh Christopher Brown, and Tim Bovaconti (Ron Sexsmith). However, working with Plaskett at his New Scotland Yard studio in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia became an immersive experience for Ellsworth that opened up many new creative possibilities that should raise his profile within the increasingly competitive Canadian singer/songwriter scene.

Things Change is officially released on April 20, and for more info go to


What makes Things Change stand apart from your previous work?

The production and songs. The songs are more ‘90s influenced, and the production attempts to throw back to that era in rock music. We use electric guitars primarily, where before my albums featured an acoustic sound. It was just four people playing together. We didn’t add any keys or synths. It’s more upbeat and fun, a bit self-deprecating, but honest. I’d describe the lyrics as being more direct and less poetic.


What songs do you feel best capture your musical vision for the album?

“Absent Mind,” “The Bottom” and “I Need A Vacation,” which I think are all self-explanatory.

What's been the most significant change in your life in the past year?

I stopped drinking alcohol 10 months ago.

How are you planning to present your new material live?

I’ll be playing with a band, but I also have solo and duo options too. I’m hoping to use a group as much as I can and turn things up a bit.

If you could fix anything about the music business, what would it be?

Where do I begin? A simple answer would be to do more to prevent artists from being ripped off. That leads to a broader conversation about giving the masses a proper understanding of the value of music and the creators of music. I’ve got lots to say about the music business, but I think the trend of paying artists less and less is something we all should be concerned about.



Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Joey Martinez

Neil Young & Crazy Horse


Neil Young's New Album 'FU##IN' UP' Has Live Recordings from Intimate Toronto Venue The Rivoli

FU##IN' UP, the new album by Neil Young & Crazy Horse, features performances of songs from his 1990 album Ragged Glory, recorded live at Toronto's Rivoli, seemingly during a much-rumoured secret show last November. He'll bring his upcoming tour to Toronto's Budweiser Stage in May, 2024.

Canadian icon Neil Young is adding to his immense discography with a new release this spring, a live album titled FU##IN UP'. The album, featuring Young's longtime band Crazy Horse, consists of nine live recordings from 2023 and is set for a limited edition two-LP release this April, in partnership with Record Store Day. According to the album's credits as noticed by Exclaim!, it was recorded at Toronto's Rivoli club, meaning it likely captures Neil Young & Crazy Horse's secret show at the Rivoli last November.

At that show — supposedly a private birthday party for Canada Goose CEO Dani Reiss — according to reports that generated a lot of buzz when they appeared online days later, Young performed most of his 1990 album Ragged Glory. FU##IN' UP features primarily songs from Ragged Glory, with new titles taken from lyric fragments. ("Over and Over," shared as a single, is now "Broken Circle.") The album features performances from Crazy Horse members Billy Talbot on bass, Ralph Molina on drums, and Nils Lofgren and Micah Nelson on guitar and piano, and Reiss is credited as a presenter.

keep readingShow less