For Houston native Robert Ellis, reality boiled down to this: He made a grand debut with The Great Rearranger (2009), and in the midst of favorable reviews, the songwriter was immediately associated with a specific genre. Nothing unusual about that. Being recognized for one’s talents and depth within the traditional country realm is a damn good thing. But the talented young musician also has a rich background in jazz and R&B. The thought of sticking to one kind of expectation was not an option. That is not how Ellis does music.
Ellis’ latest self-titled album, his fourth, shows an artist fully embracing an ongoing multifaceted evolution with sophisticated arrangements, evocative storytelling and many different elements not ordinarily expected from anything defined as “Americana.” Still, isn’t Americana a bit of many different things? That is roots music. And Ellis gladly goes wherever inspiration drives him to.
You have two opportunities to see Robert Ellis perform: Tonight and tomorrow night, at 3Ten at ACL Live., 310 Willie Nelson Blvd. Doors open at 8 p.m. Special guest Tom Brosseau starts the evening off at 9 p.m., followed by Ellis at 10 p.m. Recommended.
-Photo courtesy of the artist.