REVIEW gig Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Robert Ellis gets intimate with his acoustic set

Showcasing his new album ‘Lights from the Chemical Plant’ with an intimate acoustic set in a wet and sodden London, Robert Ellis couldn’t be further from Nashville, yet for twenty or so minutes a small crowd is transported there through classic American tastes (BBQ food provided by the ever awesome Bodeans) and sounds from, of course Robert Ellis.

rob ellis

Robert Ellis @ Gibson Guitar Studio - 27th January 2014.

Taking to the stage with an acoustic guitar, Ellis’s voice falls somewhere between Willie Nelson and James Taylor, almost perfect for the troubadour style country music that Ellis deals in. Ellis uses his voice to his advantage, embracing country and folk traditions in some offerings - most notably the tender Willie Nelson love song sound of ‘Steady as the Rising Sun’, all full of fluid guitar lines and melodious hooks – and using it to surprise you in more sombre offerings. ‘Only Lies’ is one such song, with a Gary Jules feel, this is a certainly beyond the country/folk genre, with a simple refrain in the chorus ‘Only lies can comfort you...’ This is the interesting part of what Robert Ellis can do, playing sweet, accomplished country music, yet with franker lyrics, a more modern approach and a confessional depth to it that is unexpected and original. This is no more evident on the exquisite ‘Bottle of Wine’, full of reminisce and drug addled regret ( à la Billy Joel ‘These Days’). On record Robert Ellis’s ‘Lights from the Chemical Plant’ is full of subtle stylistic changes, and deftly produced by Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Kings Of Leon), but it is live I feel that Robert Ellis is at his most compelling. Just him, his voice, and one instrument letting the songs and that voice cut deeper. By Tom Genower.