Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ellis Paul: "Sweet Mistakes" (2001) CD Review

Ellis Paul has such an amazing voice. It's so powerful and so distinct. And it's matched by the power of the lyrics he writes.

Ellis Paul starts this album with "Kristian's Song," a song about a musician who plays in the subways of the city, and then goes home and plays for himself.

Title Track, "Sweet Mistakes"

"Sweet Mistakes," the title track, sounds wonderful. The chorus is: "Bless your sweet mistakes,/That crumbled you down to your knees./That brought you to this place/Changing you by degrees/When change was just what you needed/What you needed." This song is strong and moving whenever Ellis performs it in concert. The version here is just as strong, though certainly different, especially because of the drums.

"New Orleans"

"New Orleans" is a quiet acoustic song that is just beautiful. It's also really short. Ellis was once the King Of 7th Avenue, but in this song he sings, "I am the king of Bourbon Street/I strike a match/And all the street lights catch." It's a wonderful song.

"Seventeen Septembers"

"Seventeen Septembers" is a really strong song. His voice sounds amazing on this track. And the lyrics are excellent. Here is a taste: "But in the dash light/She's like an angel fallen to earth/And you convince yourself that it's worth/Every risk you took and the cornfields shook/Bye, bye baby, in the click of hands/Hello yet-to-be mystery man/One night in a car changed who you are."

"Independence Day" was originally called "Stand By Me," when Ellis first started performing it live.

"3,000 Miles"

Of course, Ellis Paul fans will be familiar with "3,000 Miles." It's a crowd favorite, and it's a song that he's played at most of his concerts since 1993. It was originally released on Stories. This is a remixed version. Duke Levine plays guitar and mandolin on this track. Patty Griffin and Martin Sexton perform backing vocals. Doug Plavin is on drums, Richard Gaites is on bass and Tom West is on Hammond B-3.

"The Martyr's Lounge"

"The Martyr's Lounge" is another concert favorite, and this is an interesting version. This is the song about the club in heaven, where Marilyn Monroe and Jack Cousteau "talk about the sharks they used to know." And it's got these great lines: "Now Jesus don't need no introduction/He's got a famous old man."

"The Art Of Distance"
"The Art Of Distance" is another beautiful song that he should start performing in concert again. Check out these lyrics: "If you knew the art of distance,/ Would you lay in your bed/Or take a cab across town?/ You know its raining right now./You crave her skin, well,/You crave its resistance."

"The 20th Century Is Over"

'The 20th Century Is Over" is a poem that Ellis Paul read at his concerts for a while. (There was a time when he would perform at least one poem per show.) The version here is sung, but in a way that is unlike any other Ellis Paul song or recording.

This album concludes with "Beautiful World," which is performed here acappella.

Musicians On CD

The musicians on this CD are Ellis Paul on vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica; Kristian Bush on electric guitar, bass, loops and backing vocals on "Rollaway Bed"; Brandon Bush on keyboards and loops; Kevin Leahy on drums; and Don McCallister on keyboards and bells.

CD Track List
  1. Kristian's Song
  2. Sweet Mistakes
  3. New Orleans
  4. Seventeen Septembers
  5. Independence Day
  6. 3,000 Miles (remix)
  7. The Martyr's Lounge
  8. Roll Away Bed
  9. The Art Of Distance
  10. Medicine
  11. The 20th Century Is Over
  12. Beautiful World

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