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Sweet Mistakes

Ellis Paul

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Album Review

During an uncharacteristically long four-year period between major-studio releases, Ellis Paul quietly offered this web-sales-only assortment of new recordings to his patient fan base. "This is not a concept album," he warned in the liner notes, "This is a collection of demos, ideas, experiments...with noises and choices that might not survive onto a label album." At the core of the album are four tracks recorded at an Atlanta studio that subsequently burned down, taking the master recordings with it and unexpectedly turning Paul's unfinished demos into finished products. But it's doubtful that extensive alterations would have been necessary. All four songs are reasonably polished and richly produced folk-pop efforts. The title track especially seems radio-ready and instantly ranks among Paul's best. (It was, in fact, used as is in the Gwyneth Paltrow comedy Shallow Hal.) The techno and hip-hop-influenced "Martyr's Lounge" and "The 20th Century Is Over" are risky experiments for Paul, but they are both surprisingly successful. Other experiments, like the anthemic remix of "3,000 Miles" and the Jayhawks-style countrified "Roll Away Bed," are less noteworthy. But such daring stylistic excursions are balanced by the fine, straight-up folk arrangements on "Kristian's Song" and "Medicine." On the whole, the record leaves the impression that Paul is getting even better as a writer of philosophically optimistic, tightly melodic contemporary folk music, while losing none of his command over that dynamic silken tenor.

Biography

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

A troubadour, a singer/songwriter, a folky, and a storyteller — all are fair labels for this artist, but they do not quite suffice. However, the tattoo of Woody Guthrie worn proudly on his arm is a good starting place from which to grasp Ellis Paul, for it is from the Woody Guthrie tradition that he hails, and Maine as well. Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and James Taylor are also listed among his influences, and their spirits seem to occasionally grace his work....
Full bio
Sweet Mistakes, Ellis Paul
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