Robert Ellis, 'Robert Ellis'
One problem with breakup albums is how they focus mainly on the feels of the sensitive songwriter — wounded souls they tend to be — but offer little in terms of introspection over what role he or she may have played in the relationship's demise. Texas singer-songwriter Robert Ellis' self-titled fourth album does both, examining the unfortunate collapse of his marriage with a series of pop and jazz-influenced tunes that don't make him look like a victim or hero. In the mellow "California," he depicts a woman packing her dishes and contemplating her next move, and in "Drivin'" he imagines just aimlessly wandering in the car, anything to avoid having to confront the gulf that's opened up between him and his partner. It certainly isn't pretty, which somehow makes it all the more beautifully potent.