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NEW YORK (AP) – Had things been different, Robert Ellis might be leading country music's long-predicted return to its roots. Alas, Ellis finds that role unappealing and has mostly turned his back on his classic country sound with a new album of singer-songwriter-influenced material, "The Lights From the Chemical Plant."

This album leans more on the influences of storytellers Paul Simon and Randy Newman than the Texas troubadours who have shown through on his last two albums. This allows Ellis to show off his profound songwriting skills in a different, no less appealing way. He's whimsical on "TV Song," poignant on "Chemical Plant," nails the melancholy barroom piano ballad "Bottle of Wine" and unfurls the racing sails on "Only Lies."

He even throws in a well-wrought cover of Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years" for good measure.

All great moments, but the best come when Ellis leans back toward his own roots. When the 25-year-old opens his mouth, we still hear the twang of southeastern Texas. And when he arranged his songs with veteran producer Jacquire King, he usually pushed Will Van Horn's pedal often towering steel guitar to the front of the mix.

He addresses this directly on the album's most moving track, "Houston," a song written as he packed his things for Nashville, Tenn., during a recent move. "Oh, Houston, this is not goodbye/you will be living inside my heart …" He finishes that song with a towering guitar solo, then shows you what he can really do on six string with the album's best cut, the honky-tonk hell-and-brimstone burner "Sing Along."

In the end, Ellis offers a little bit of something for everyone — not a claim many can make.

Robert Ellis
Availability: Call for Availability

Worldwide Agency excluding UK & Europe
Ground Control Touring

20 Jay Street, Suite 838
Brooklyn, NY 11201 United States
Phone: 718-218-8203
Fax: 718-218-8205

Responsible Agent: Andrew Colvin

UK & European Agency
Coda Agency Ltd.

CODA House
56 Compton Street
Clerkenwell, London EC1V 0ET United Kingdom
Phone: 44-20-7017-2500
Fax: 44-20-7017-2555

Responsible Agent: Paul Buck

Worldwide Management
Vector Management

113 East 55th Street
New York, NY 10022 United States
Phone: 212-317-2323
Fax: 212-317-5983
Comments: A Front Line Management Group Inc. Company

Responsible Manager: Brad Oldham

North American Publicity
Vector Management

PO Box 120479
Nashville, TN 37212 United States
Phone: 615-269-6600
Fax: 615-269-6002
Comments: A Front Line Management Group Inc. Company

Responsible Publicist: Amanda Hale-Ornelas

North American Record Label
New West Records Inc.

608 West Monroe Street, Suite C
Austin, TX 78704 United States
Phone: 512-472-4200
Phone: 512-472-0900