Houston’s Robert Ellis is a twenty-two year old who could be completely mistaken for George Jones. He’s got a voice and a gentle sound to him that bring to mind country legends. Recently, he released his newwest album Photographs, on New West Records.
The young songwriter’s second release is an impressive split album that is divided by five folk tracks and five country songs. Ellis is quite the talented songwriter and he displays his command of poetry and prose throughout this album. His opener ‘Friends Like Those’ weeps through the loss and the cherishing of a good friend, this is a song that’s warm, tender, and a little bit heartbreaking. His writing is contemplative, emotive, and paints some beautiful imagery, he’s the quintessential troubadour.
The subtle nature his music portrays only helps to define his songwriting. Quietly plucking guitar strings, and singing; it feels like he’s singing directly to you. As the band flourishes flow in, you realize just how nice of a listen this album is. Ellis’ voice can be quite powerful even though at times he seems quite diminutive. But Ellis has a few tricks up his sleeve with some tracks that come a bit out of nowhere. The “side a” is the folk side, is filled with tender folk balladry, a few sprinkled bouncers like ‘Two Cans of Paint,’ a song about moving in to a new home, has all the bounces and fun of front porch loungin’ folk songs, its light and fun. The side hearkens to a mix of James Taylor and Jackson Browne.
The country side, begins with Comin Home, journey song about how much Ellis enjoys his trips, but especially coming home to his family. Its a speedy opener that shows off the bands ability to pull off some trademark country sounds, the slide guitar, the locomotive like drums and the slight drawl. Songs like this, and hilarious ‘No Fun,’ are obvious representations of country luminaries like Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson. While somber, crying in your beer songs like ‘What’s in it for me?’ and ‘I’ll Never Give Up On You,’ evoke the George Jones influence. Either way, these songs are great to listen to.
The concept album splitting between the two genres (folk and country respectively) flows quite nicely. The songs are expertly crafted, and beautiful sounding. Ellis and his band have really done a great job creating new music that is an obvious nod to the past, and its really great. I’ve come back to this album time after time, and I’ll continue to listen to it for a long time. We have something very special in Ellis, someone that looks to have a very promising songwriting career.