Robert Ellis – Photographs

January 01, 1970

(New West)

 

www.newwestrecords.com

 

Houston songwriter Robert Ellis splits his sophomore album
right down the middle, with one half of Photographs dedicated to sensitive, enlightened, modern-day folk pop, the other to
straight-on, bootkicking and somewhat misogynist country. It’s a bit of a
Jeckyl and Hyde act, with Ellis happy to drive his ex to the airport for parts
unknown on  Jansch-like “Friends Like
That,” and even ready to chip in to redecorate in the mildly rollicking,
extremely domesticated “Two Cans of Paint.” 
Yet by side two, he’s put on a bad-ass country hat, dragging himself
home stinking drunk and belligerent in “What’s In It For Me?”  and threatening real harm if his girl steps
out on “No Fun.” 

 

Yes, oddly enough, traditional instrumentation – the aching,
pining pedal steel of “What’s In It For Me?” the banjo and one-two shuffling
acoustic bass of “No Fun” – seem to bring out the old-style, unevolved, he-man
in Ellis…a transformation which, even in fun (and let’s hope that “No Fun” is in fun), jars a little. Still Ellis
has some really lovely moments, especially in the first half, none more lovely
than the string-edges spare-ness of “Cemetary,” which evokes the devastating
simplicity of Willie Nelson.  Here his
effortless tenor sails out into near falsetto territory, taking on a brief
ghostly radiance as he wrings ineffable sadness out of loving and leaving and
remembering.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Cemetary,”
“What’s In It For Me” JENNIFER
KELLY

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