Robert Ellis is a Texas country artist that isn’t like many so-called Texas country artists thesae days. In fact, he’s really just a straight-up stone-cold country twanger with a sensitive soul and a deft touch with a tune that focuses more on the writing than it does a thunderous, frat boy-approved backbeat. What’s refreshing is that we’re in a time where folk-artists with serious contry leanings that focus on soulful writing such as Justin Tones Earle, Josh Ritter and Joe Pug can become successful touring artists and critical darlings. In such a setting, there’s no wondering whether the 22 year old, long-haired Ellis will be a success. Signed to New West Records, the Houston native is label-mates with The Old 97′s, and John Hiatt, among others. Lately, he has regularly been stealing the show from the likes of Lucero and Dawes with his understated, folksy approach to country story-telling.
Ellis’ debut full-length album, Photographs, rarely rises above a whisper. It doesn’t need to really. The sparse production isn’t terribly unlike that of a classic Texas album, Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger. Ol’ Willie didn’t need his amps cranked up to 11 to wow the masses, now did he? Indeed, there are some nods to laid-back 1970′s singer-songwriter stylings – whether it be James Taylor or even Jackson Browne.
Really, this is an album best enjoyed on a porch, after dark as the only light available barely flickers as you sit alone with only a warm glass of high-octane brown liquid to accompany you and the thoughts that are conjured up by Ellis’ rich, yet plain spoken imagery. It’s not like other’s arent noticing, mind you. The always excellent site Daytrotter.Com recently featured Ellis and had him in to record a few songs for their site (which you can download for free), and even Spin magazine had some nice things to say recently about the latest export of the Texas folk-country factory that now belongs to the entire country.