Robert Ellis: “Westbound Train”
Over the course of a calendar, KUT features 260 songs of the day from a wide range of artists, each one catching our collective ear. For the last two weeks of the year, we’ll be highlighting the best songs of the day from 2011, featuring big names, new discoveries, Studio 1A exclusives, and some tunes that might have gotten lost in the shuffle in the past twelve months.
In a Texas Monthly article a few months back, Robert Ellis admitted that his LP, Photographs, doesn’t fit nicely into a particular genre. “I want to find an audience that’s open and, most of all, patient. I don’t want to be just one thing. I can’t think of anything more boring.” For music critics and journalists, what Ellis calls “boring” is something of an imperative. We need to call the music something. Here goes: Ellis’ music is a cross between traditional country and indie-rock (in the same article, Ellis notes, in Blues-Brothers-Bob’s-Country-Bunker-style, that for his family “there were two types of music: country and bluegrass”).
Ellis grew up in Lake Jackson, Texas – a refining town on the Gulf of Mexico. He moved to Houston four years ago when he turned 18 and began gigging in the local honky-tonks and bars, sparking a small but passionate fan base.
Photographs is Ellis’ debut on New West Records (Steve Earle, John Hiatt, Kris Kristofferson) and this year he toured extensively with label-mates and fellow genre-defyers, the Old 97s. In the middle of that tour, he stopped by KUT to record some of his tunes live in the studio. “Westbound Train” strikes a mix between indie-folk and country that makes Ellis’ music both intriguing and infectious.