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Past Reviews

Review of A Summer Night In Georgia

March 23, 2009

CD REVIEW: Catch Ellis Paul before he's gone
There are artists who are good at their craft. There are artists who have developed and maximized their talent to a high degree.Then there are those fewer artists who seem simply to have been blessed with skills that outshine most others. Ellis Paul is one of those.

There are artists who are good at their craft. There are artists who have developed and maximized their talent to a high degree. There are artists who seem to produce good records with a few tracks that hit home on a regular basis. Then there are those fewer artists who seem simply to have been blessed with skills that outshine most other mere mortals and their music seems to come alive.

Ellis Paul is one of those who shine in all areas.

His songwriting is exceptional, his singing is heavenly and his instrumental ability is way beyond the norm. Among national-level traveling troubadours, he is one of the best.

His new, limited-edition release — which means that when the allotted pressings are sold, there are no more — "A Summer Night in Georgia," showcases the Maine native at one of his favorite stops on his national touring schedule "Eddie's Attic" in Decatur, Ga. The songs, both older and new, his "live" delivery and his interaction with the crowd show a master craftsman at work and a wonderful document of where Paul stands on his career path20 years in.

"Angel in Manhattan" is the surreal story of a transvestite street performer named "Baby D" who dressed in angel wings and a tutu while pulling a symphony-sized string harp behind his bicycle. Paul had success with this song after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks because many of the details it contains line up with the events of that day, by pure chance.

Paul seems to use his songwriting as a personal process to understand humanity better in "The World Ain't Slowin' Down." It's a prismatic look at life in all its shades and hues and is quintessential Ellis Paul with his marriage of emotion and intellect.

"Black Top Train" has an almost Richie Havens vibe with boisterous guitar strumming underneath wailing vocals in a story of how the American countryside has changed.

One of the four brand-new tracks on the disc is the powerful "Hurricane Angel." It tells the sorrowful story of Hurricane Katrina from the vantage of a survivor going through all the machinations our government put them through.

His credentials are impressive: one of New England's best, and the recipient of 13 Boston Music Awards over the past 15 years; 14 recordings in his discography; asked by Woody Guthrie's daughter, Nora, to compose lyrics to her father's music; has performed at Carnegie Hall; just finished a children's disc called "The Dragonfly Races"; his songs have been featured in many national movies and television soundtracks and he has built a solid following throughout the country with his relentless touring schedule.

With a dearth of top-flight creative national acts rolling through the Northland over the recent past, this is an opportunity to see one of the country's finest Friday night at the Amazing Grace. Oh, and pick up a copy of this limited-edition gem, "A Summer Night in Georgia."

by John Ziegler, Duluth News Tribune , Duluth News Tribune

updated: 7 years ago