With his new self-titled album, Texas songwriter Robert Ellis has embarked on a sonic, and somewhat theatrical adventure, has expanded the limits of Americana music, and has invited us along for the ride.
Out today via New West Records, Robert Ellis shows the Americana craftsman giving his normally acoustic tone a shot of dynamic production magic—the emotion is cranked up to eleven with tracks featuring lush and varied instrumentation that perfectly mirror their individual aesthetics.
Album opener “Perfect Strangers” is bustling and imaginatively dissonant, which complements a song about falling in love with someone before you know them–because as Ellis says, “everything looks better in low lighting.” “Drivin’” is a classic Willie Nelson-esque road song with energetic dobro flourishes and serious guitar picking that set the tone for a tune about an unhappy man who has realized that he’s not living, he’s just surviving.
“The high road is closed for repairs, and nobody cares about songs anymore”, our hero sings in his high and lonesome tenor, in album standout “The High Road”; the narrator intimately reveals that always taking the high road is wearing him down. The song takes a turn for the classically dramatic with different movements throughout, like an abbreviated stage musical in only one song. Ellis flirts with the electronic on instrumental “Screw”; while he croons 50s-style about needing a partner at the rink in album rocker “Couples Skate”.
While a close listen to the lyrics reveal that the album is filled with tales of loss, emotional infidelity, and brokenness, each tune shimmers with diverse and individual personality, making it one of the most interesting and sonically stimulating records I’ve heard in ages. It seems as though Ellis, with this self-titled offering, has thrust his flag into the ground, and declared that this musical mountain is his territory. He has chosen wisely.
Purchase Robert Ellis: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/robert-ellis/id1094933583