Robert Ellis

The Lights from the Chemical Plant (New West)

SXSW 2014 Records

Robert Ellis

The Lights From the Chemical Plant (New West)

Much has happened to Robert Ellis since his first New West release, 2011's Photographs. For one, he moved from Texas to Nashville, dedicated to growing his song craft. The Lights From the Chemical Plant easily outshines the uneven Photographs, but Ellis' reach still exceeds his grasp. With Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Kings of Leon) producing, he's crafted a different kind of Americana, one where pop, country, and roots rock mingle but never quite get comfortable. Part of the problem remains in Ellis' reedy voice, which mutes the impact of the songs like the soul-stirring title track and a misplaced cover of Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years." Still, the redneck novelty of "TV Song" name dropping Walt Disney and Betty Draper, and the reverb-soaked and soaring "Only Lies" stand out for pop melodies on tales well told. (9:50pm, Red 7; Fri., Continental Club, 11pm)

**.5

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