The Lights From the Chemical Plant

You can't take the country out of the boy – just listen to Robert Ellis' honeyed twang – but the boy can take the country out of his songs. The young Texas songwriter, who has proved his honky-tonk chops onstage, takes this opportunity to offer 11 expansive folk-pop songs that are closer in weary spirit to Paul Simon – including a soulful, pedal-steel-sweetened cover of "Still Crazy After All These Years." Elsewhere, "Chemical Plant" casts a harshly beautiful visual as a wrenching metaphor for impermanence, and "Tour Song" puts a tired roots singer in "some hipster bar," borrowing Simon's "Homeward Bound" ache: "I long to be back home."

From The Archives Issue 1203: February 27, 2014
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