× Robert Ellis and Belaver tour Europe starting next week

Robert Ellis and Belaver tour Europe starting next week


Robert Ellis is a free man. That’s not to say he’s without obligation—he’s a husband and father and partner in a top-tier recording studio, after all—but rather, since leaving his record label and management compan of more than a decade, he’s liberated himself from commercial expectations and redefined himself on his own, far more honest terms. It would be easy to take such sovereignty as an excuse for indulgence—many an artist has—but Ellis instead goes in precisely the opposite direction with his exquisite new album, Yesterday’s News, embracing a raw minimalism that prizes patience and restraint above all else.

“I’ve spent my entire career trying to make records that I thought would be ‘exciting’ to other people,” Ellis reflects, “but the albums I’ve always been most drawn to are small and gentle and soft. The more I sat with these new songs, the more I realized that their stillness was their strength.”

Recorded live to tape in just two days, Yesterday’s News is as stripped-down as it gets, with Ellis’s delicate, reedy tenor accompanied only by nylon string guitar, upright bass, and the occasional piece of handheld percussion. The arrangements are harmonically sophisticated here, drawing on the open tunings and intricate fingerpicking of English songwriters like Nick Drake or Richard Thompson, and Ellis’s performances are similarly subtle and nuanced, tapping into the bittersweet longing of Chet Baker and the playful poignancy of Bill Evans and Jim Hall. What emerges is a record that’s not quite folk and not quite jazz, a series of intimate, unhurried meditations on growth and maturity, hope and regret, desire and contentment, all delivered by an artist learning to let go and get quiet, to slow down and appreciate the tiny little miracles that make life worth living.

While that might seem surprising coming off 2019’s raucous Texas Piano Man, subverting expectations is nothing new for Ellis. Born and raised outside Houston, he gained early acclaim for his piercing introspection and absorbing narratives, but his writing was far more layered and complex than the neo-country acts he was often lumped in with. Over the course of five solo albums, Ellis flirted with everything from Paul Simon and John Prine to Elton John and Joni Mitchell, zigging whenever he was expected to zag in a series of sonic and visual transformations that ran the gamut from Redneck Steely Dan to Lone Star Liberace. 

This month he comes over for an European tour, bringing label mate Belaver as support:

04/10: Brussels, BE - Indies Keeping Secrets
05/10: Groningen, NL - Lutherse Kerk
06/10: Hengelo, NL - Metropool
07/10: Langenberg, DE - Whatever Happens im Club
08/10: Antwerp, BE - Trix
09/10: Eindhoven, NL - Americana Mondays
10/10: Utrecht, NL - TivoliVredenburg
12/10: Stockholm, SWE - Klub Nalen
13/10: Drammen, NO - Kulturhus
14/10: Trondheim, NO - Moskus
15/10: Oslo, NO - Belleville
17/10: Gothenburg, SWE - Pustervik


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