Kevin McCarthy's Folk Music Review of "American Jukebox Fables"


Ellis Paul's latest release is laden with intimate relationship songs, some positive, some not so. If artists create from that which they are most familiar, Paul's acquaintance with turbulence, tempered by a learned wiseness, accurately describes his pilgrimage through coupledom.

This is also a 'different' Ellis Paul here, but long-time fans need not fear for there is plenty of the 'old' Paul here, too, along with his more contemporary sound.

There are a number of gems to enjoy with "Jukebox On My Grave" being the signature song of this release. Some want their graves tidy and swept clean, Paul wants his to appropriately emanate music.

Some of the lyrics in "Home" will likely be pilfered for future wedding vows. Paul, disdaining the ephemoral and the truly unimportant, sings:
"Home
is the woman across the table
Home
is dreaming in my sheets
Home
Home
This house is just an address
You're my home"
Paul offers another stunner with "Clarity," an absorbing tale about the father-seeking by-product of a tryst between a love-her-and-leave-her soldier and a young woman.

"Bad, Bad Blood" hammers on the unholy matrimony and resulting 15 minutes of infamy between the sad sacks of this world and the media.

"Alice's Champagne Palace" may never become as famous as the restaurant Arlo Guthrie sings about, but credit Paul for an incisive couple of lines about a town in Alaska that may also describe many others throughout this country: "...Homer's a town of misfit toys, renegade women, runaway boys..."

"Kiss The Sun" drills down to the question about which instruments to use in measuring the greatness of Amerca.

Most of the other offerings fall into the above-mentioned category illustrating partnering or separation. "Mystified" contains an insightful chorus about someone at wit's end, trying to communicate:
"...If I was a stranger would you believe?
Would you take the truth from me?
'Cause I tell you, and you don't heat it
So I show you and you don't see it
and I'm mystified that
you'd deny the truth from me, from me..."
In "She Was," Paul's protagonist fails to convince himself of his love's unworthiness. "Marc Chagall" is a touching ode to the power and strength to be found in the best of affiliations. The briefest cut, "Time," tells of all that is lost by holding on to past hurt and pain. "Take All The Sky You Need" explores a remarkable 'better half' who supports her mate's individual trek of self-discovery.

The 'base' of Paul's fandom will overall be pleased with this release. Those unfamiliar with his artistry will be exposed to the Ellis Paul that has been known and loved for some time, plus the touches of danceability and percussion of the 'latest' Paul. -- Kevin McCarthy

LINK: Kevin McCarthy's Celtic & Folk Music Reviews

updated: 9 years ago