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Ellis UK Review in Maverick Magazine!

September 06, 2011

Ellis UK Review in Maverick Magazine
When Ellis Paul recorded his latest studio album THE DAY AFTER EVERYTHING CHANGED he financed it via a fan funding initiative; at the highest-level contribution, a ‘reward’ was a private concert, which meant he had a commitment to fulfil in the UK, for a Sheffield based contributor. On the back of that trip he played two shows, afternoon and evening, for the Turners Hill House Concert series. It’s been five years since Paul’s last UK visit; fans from as far away as Newcastle and Dorset made the journey to catch him in this delightfully intimate setting. With a new Taylor guitar, he opened the afternoon show with Rose Tattoo the lyrics of which resonate with many; set against the backdrop of a man returning home after losing his job, the song focuses on his wife’s belief that, together, they will pull through the tough times. The next song was Roy Orbison’s Crying which Paul, at the invitation of Orbison’s widow, Barbara, recorded for a video tribute to acknowledge what would have been Orbison’s 75th birthday this year; Paul’s version is right up there with the original—he has no problem singing falsetto!
Recently celebrating twenty years in the business, Paul played some anniversary shows in the US for which he learned a selection of cover songs, so we heard Buddy Holly’s Everyday, Joni Mitchell’s The Circle Game and John Prine’s Angel in Montgomery. Paul is known for his own strong lyrically literate style, so dipping in to his own catalogue he played a selection from his latest recording—Dragonfly, a gentle love song, Annalee an autobiographical look back at the summer before college beckoned, and Waking Up To Me, also inspired by real-life—driving through the night, to get back to a loved one. A new song Kick Out The Lights based on a story about Johnny Cash kicking out stage lights at the Grand Ole Opry had the audience exercising its vocal chords! It’s destined to become a favourite sing-along during live shows. The World Ain’t Slowin’ Down was used in the Jim Carrey film Me, Myself and Irene and that with three songs from 2005’s AMERICAN JUKEBOX FABLES completed the afternoon show. Paul is a seasoned performer who plays extensively in the US and has honed his craft well. Relaxed in front of a crowd, with a quick and ready wit, he is able to connect easily with his audience. At one point he took a camera from a fan as he’d spotted a photo opportunity whilst singing—he and the audience reflected in a chrome light fitting made for an interesting picture!
The evening show featured just three repetitions from the afternoon ( Dragonfly was a request). Opening with Maria’s Beautiful Mess from 2002’s THE SPEED OF TREES, a song included regularly in his set-lists he went on to play one of the few cover songs he has recorded—Mark Erelli’s The Only Way. Written in response to 9/11 tonight it was dedicated to Norway—the horrific bombing in Oslo and shootings in Utoya were still unfolding. One of Paul’s heroes is Woody Guthrie; God’s Promise is a song to which he set music to Guthrie’s lyrics. The Beatles’ Let It Be was another cover. Lights of Vegas a co-write with long time friend Kristian Bush (Sugarland) was introduced with an amusing story of how Bush insisted it have ‘na, na’s’ only winning the argument when pulling rank by virtue of his Grammy award! The not too often played Speed of Trees was a nice surprise as was the Christmas song Snow in Austin. An all too rare a visit from a hugely talented singer-songwriter ended with the title track The Day After Everything Changed from his latest album. He undertook to return annually to these shores and I amongst many others very much hope he doesn’t break promises!

by Jela Webb, Maverick

updated: 5 years ago