Hey! Manchester presents Robert Ellis
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With its contemplative storytelling and meandering, Paul Simon-meets-George Jones melodies, Robert Ellis’ breakthrough 2014 record, The Lights From The Chemical Plant, positioned the Houston-bred singer at the very forefront of Americana’s vanguard. Two years later, Robert Ellis, at just 27 years-old, is back with his self-titled fourth album, his finest work to date.
Most impressive are the leaps and risks Ellis, who self-produced the record, takes as he expands the typical country-folk palette with elaborate arrangements featuring MIDI keyboards, string sections, ambient noise, and synths. Aided by jazz-influenced guitarist Kelly Doyle, Ellis’ musical vision for country music in 2016 is just as boldly left-of-centre as fellow new traditionalist Sturgill Simpson’s.
Robert Ellis’ self-titled album is the sound of a young songwriter solidifying his blend of East Nashville country with whatever sounds, styles, and sentiments that suit his interests. Or, as he puts it: ‘How can you call it art when you’re sticking to a dotted line?’
With this new album he crosses the Atlantic in September for an exclusive performance at Take Root, followed by a more extensive tour in November and December.
Tour support comes from Jenny O. California songwriter Jenny O began recording on her father’s reel-to-reel tape machine as a teenager. Her debut album, Automechanic, was produced by Jonathan Wilson (known for his solo work and albums by Father John Misty.) Jenny also has two self-produced EPs: HOME and, most recently, WORK, featuring the single, Cheer Up Free Your Mind. Her songs have been licensed frequently for American television and film. Jenny O has toured with Rodriguez, Father John Misty, Ben Harper, Leon Russell, Rodrigo Amarante and The Proclaimers.
Opening the show is Jake Houlsby. Described by BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne as ‘sublime’, Newcastle singer-songwriter Jake Houlsby has steadily been attracting more and more attention since releasing his debut EP, Yannina, in 2015. Influenced by the likes ofSufjan Stevens, Fleet Foxes and Willy Mason, Yannina picked up widespread acclaim with national airplay on BBC 6 Music courtesy of Lauren Laverne and Tom Robinson, as well as considerable blog coverage on the likes of The 405, Crack In The Road and Folk Radio UK, and led to support slots with Gaz Coombes, The Lone Bellow and Paper Aeroplanes.