Nashville-via-Texas singer-songwriter Robert Ellis broke onto the scene towards the end of the last decade with two albums of traditionally flavored country music, The Great Rearranger and Photographs. But his third LP, The Lights From the Chemical Plant, out earlier this month on New West, represents a shift. Tracks like opener "TV Song" are quirky, poignant show-stoppers in the story-pop tradition established by Paul Simon and Randy Newman, two greats Ellis has cited as having influenced his musical development from a very young age. (To really hammer home the connection, the album even includes a faithful cover of Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years.") But Ellis' reedy vocal delivery still sits solidly in the country-western wheelhouse, and as tunes like the Opry-indebted "Sing Along" display, he ain't abandoning his first love just yet.
Read a Q&A with Ellis, and win tickets to the show, on Homedrone.