Robert Ellis “Photographs”

 

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#547 in the Series) is Robert Ellis, Photographs. (New West Records)

The name Robert Ellis is new to me and all I know about him is that he’s 22 years old, hails from Houston Texas and made quite a reputation for himself at “Whiskey Wednesdays” in a place called Fitzgerald’s. Oh, and he’s just made a totally brilliant album!

Now some albums have you hooked from the first few listens whereas others take time to grow on you, working their charms at a nice sedate pace. This one manages to pull off the unique trick of doing both. He’s done that by making a record that has the feel of a defiantly “old school” album, with two very distinctive and different sides of music. I have the CD but I’d be very surprised if this one isn’t available on vinyl, its tailor made for it.

Overall it’s very much an Americana record but Side One (well, tracks 1-5) has a laid-back folk feel to it, acoustic songs with subtlety and grace, that’s the part that draws you in slowly and  takes time to get the hooks in, worth the effort though as the payoff is sublime.

Side Two (tracks 6-10) is more what would be Alt. Country I’d say, upbeat stuff with pedal-steel snaking through, instantly likeable.

Things get off to great start with “Friends Like Those”, a gentle number that sets the scene wonderfully:

“It was the first week of June. I already knew for a while that you’d be goin’ Soon as the summer began”

The first part of the album has a real nostalgic feel to it, looking back to friends and lovers that have moved on, but the memories remain, bittersweet.

It builds throughout, gathering pace and passion and by the mid-point we’re on to “What’s In It For Me?” a country classic if ever I heard one. George Jones could do this one proud, it’s apparent by now that this chap is steeped in this music and really knows his stuff. A real artist, not some poser in a big hat!

This is one young fella that knows how to craft a song, he never does the obvious thing and his lyrics are superb, with a hint of Lyle Lovett’s wry humour in there. Good example here would be “No Fun”:

“Don’t you go out dancing while I’m sitting here at home. You better not be romancing talking sweet with anyone. In fact, if I ain’t around you better not even have ANY fun. With anyone….”

So far, so excellent, but young Ellis has kept an ace up his sleeve and saved the best ’til last. “Photographs” is the album’s title track and it’s an absolute beauty, a heartfelt plea to a partner who’s possibly still hung up on a past relationship. Or two ! It’s a superb ending, leaving us wanting more, and when I finally get around to compiling the Greatest Americana Album In The World Ever, this track will certainly be on there.

New West Records have really been on a roll lately, releasing excellent albums this year alone from the likes of Steve Earle and John Hiatt. In Robert Ellis they’ve unearthed a fantastic new talent whom I feel, and certainly hope, will be giving such grizzled old veterans as those two a real run for their money in the years to come. Well worth seeking out.

— Stephen Dalrymple, Glasgow, Scotland

Track Listing

All songs written by Robert Ellis

Side One

  1. Friends Like Those  (4.07)
  2. Bamboo  (3.32)
  3. Cemetery  (6.59)
  4. Two Cans Of Paint  (4.37)
  5. Westbound Train  (4.08)

Side Two

  1. Comin’ Home  (3.03)
  2. What’s in It For Me?  (4.23)
  3. I’ll Never Give Up On You  (3.37)
  4. No Fun  (3.14)
  5. Photographs  (4.42)

Personnel

  • Robert Ellis – Drums, Guitar, Piano, Vocals
  • Ryan Chavez – Drums, Vocals
  • Christine Kim – Cello
  • Kelly Doyle – Guitar
  • Hannah Dremann – Violin
  • Derek Dunivan – Vocals
  • Geoffrey Muller  – Bass
  • Rachel Sandman  – Violin
  • Leslie Sloan – Vocals
  • Will Van Horn -Banjo, Pedal Steel
  • Rainey Weber – Viola

Links

BONUS VIDEO: See Robert discuss his album, Photographs


Posted by Stephen Dalrymple
I was so much older then , i'm younger than that now.........


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