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The Day After Everything Changed

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Album Review

The theme of Ellis Paul's album The Day After Everything Changed is contained in its title. In song after song, and from one song to another, his concern is about drastic changes that have taken place in the lives of his first-person characters, and those changes are always bad. The circumstances, and even the centuries, may vary: "Hurricane Angel" is about a victim of Hurricane Katrina, while "The Cotton's Burning" is sung by a Confederate officer at the close of the Civil War. But things always take a major turn for the worse. Sometimes that turn occurs during the silence between songs. The infatuated narrator of the lead-off track, "Annalee," experiencing young love, seems to give way to the laid-off married man with babies to feed in the next song, "Rose Tattoo," as if to say, these can be the consequences of desire. But if Paul has a big point to make, he isn't particularly original about the way he does so. In "Rose Tattoo," he name-checks Van Morrison, and in "River Road" (one of five songs co-written with Sugarland's Kristian Bush), he paraphrases Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road": "Would you like to know how it feels?/To trade your wings in on some wheels." It's no crime to borrow from your influences; Springsteen himself does it occasionally. But if you do, it's probably not a good idea to put the purloined words in the chorus and repeat them, as Paul does. And although he doesn't otherwise steal chunks of material, his imagery (when it's not confined to the sun, the moon, angels, and heaven) suggests that he spends a lot of time listening to classic rock, as familiar terms like "buckets of rain" (Bob Dylan), "flatbed Ford" (Eagles), and "long winding road" (the Beatles) litter his lyrics. All this radio listening may take place in the car: ten of the album's 15 songs contain references to driving, highways, etc. The only specifically autobiographical tune may be "Sometime, Someplace," with its barroom setting in which the narrator is addressed as "Mr. Paul," but the singer/songwriter's peripatetic lifestyle seems to come out in all those mentions of the road. One, however, cannot be blamed on him as a songwriter. There is a medley of the old Patsy Cline hit "Walking After Midnight" ("I walk for miles out on the highway") with Sam Baker's "Change," the latter another statement about newly reduced circumstances. Unlike Paul, Baker is specific, his lines filled with original imagery and specific detail before the story concludes with a cutting irony. It's not a good sign when the best song on a singer/songwriter's album is one he didn't write himself, but "Change" gives Paul another articulation of the world view he espouses throughout this collection, that things are getting worse, much worse, and fast.

Customer Reviews

Absolutely wonderful album!

I can not stop listening to this CD! It's been in my car playing for a week non-stop. Definitely his best work to date- and thats quite an accomplishment! It is a very well produced album. In each and every song his beautiful voice tells a beautiful story. Highly recommended!!

Love this CD

Ellis Paul is one of the best songwriters I have had the privilege of listening to. The songs on the album strike many different tones, telling stories of the human spirit, in love, in loss, in desperate times, and in history. The production on the album is stunning. His clear, strong voice beautifully tells each story, and I can hear that he genuinely has spent time with these people listened to their stories, or has lived it himself. The songs on the album are thoughtful and thought provoking, each one a little short story or movies put to melody.

Great discovery

I thought I was aware of virtually every artist out there, but a friend brought me to an Ellis Paul show in Austin, Texas and I was amazed that someone this good flew under my radar for so long. I bought this Cd at the show and am really pleased with it. Ellis Pauls music is a bit hard to catagorize, so you may not hear him on the radio, but his songwriting is excellent, voice is strong and arrangements and production are top notch. If you are looking to discover an artist with stories to tell, check him out.


Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

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. With an acoustic guitar in hand, he weaves...
Full Bio

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The Day After Everything Changed, Ellis Paul
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