Monday, October 31, 2016

Robert Ellis -- Robert Ellis

Robert Ellis keeps getting robbed. The Lights From the Chemical Plant, his breakout album, was on of my favorites of 2015 but was overshadowed by (I believe) Jason Isbell. This year, his self-titled third round was shunted off to the side by its shared release date with Sturgill Simpson's A Sailor's Guide to the Earth. Because I strive daily to be the change I wish to see in the world, I am here to correct that wrong.

I'm not sure it would be fair to call this a country album. Certainly Ellis' soulful tenor and twang call the genre to mind. But much like his erstwhile rival Simpson (I don't think that's the case but I'm going to pretend it is), Robert Ellis takes great joy in taking that 70s Nashville sound and turning it completely on its ear.

The album plays with narrative ingeniously, and I would certainly expect nothing less of Ellis. "Perfect Strangers," the album opener, sets the tone describing the arc of a relationship -- from blissful ignorance to the familiarity that breeds contempt. Through the album, Ellis explores the perspectives of both parties through swagger, loneliness, and a meditative instrumental break. At times we get the sense that Ellis is gently making fun of himself. However, this humor does more to draw the listener in than to isolate. With this album, Ellis asks to consider the most epic tale of all: an ordinary human life.

Robert Ellis -- Official, Facebook, Purchase from Barnes and Noble (?!), iTunes

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