Some artists document their lives through their music. Others chronicle their times. It’s a rare artist who can do both, telling their own story through songs that also encapsulate the essence of people and places who have helped define their era overall. Woody Guthrie comes to mind, and so does Bob Dylan. Bruce Springsteen certainly as well. Yet few others, for whatever genius they may possess, can relate their own history to the history experienced by those who find that common bond, be it in a coming of age, living through the same realities or sharing similar experiences.
Quintessential New England singer-songwriter Ellis Paul helped to revitalize both the Boston/Cambridge and the national Folk scene in the 1990's. His urban, literate, folk rock style has the rare ability to take dead aim at a subject while avoiding the in-your-face approach of many of his contemporaries. The newest album, "The Storyteller's Suitcase" is a melding of personal reflections and social commentary. "Paul sits in the long tradition of troubadours and storytellers such as Paxton and Prine, offering intimate insights and biting observations on the life and world around him. There’s a definite Prine lyrical sensibility to the first track, ‘I Ain’t No Jesus’, a kind of celebration of your average blue collar stiff who can’t work miracles but does the best he can with the life he has." And the album ends on a political note, with a bluesy cover of Michal K Brown’s ‘Election Day’ and its commentary on the current administration who’ve “been taking money from the oilmen/Money from the NRA”, talking the talk but not walking the walk, a hopeful note that, next time America goes to the polls, that particular party might be over.
On the lyric book inside the fold out case, he’s handwritten written “Every story needs someone who will listen”. Be one of them.
"Despite his success and sense of history, Mr. Paul remains an artist with his eye on the future and an interest in discovering the transformative potential in his music." - The New York Times