Ellis Paul & Vance Gilbert
Side of the Road
Shaking Up Gravity
First Appeared at The Music Box, December 2003, Volume 10, #12
Written by T.J. Simon
Ellis Paul and Vance Gilbert are singer-songwriters who possess the ability to hold attendees in crowded performance spaces in rapt attention with nothing but their acoustic guitars and silky voices. Paul sings like Cat Stevens, and his relentlessly catchy songs have been featured on the soundtracks to the films Me, Myself, and Irene and Shallow Hal. His friend Vance Gilbert is one of the few African-Americans on the contemporary folk circuit, and his vocal skill is influenced by soul singers of the past 50 years, most obviously Al Jarreau. In concert, Gilbert often sets his guitar aside and sings without instrumental accompaniment ó filling the room with his voice and the audience with admiration.
After touring together and sharing a stage over several dates, Paul and Gilbert decided to collaborate on an album. The resulting disc (Side of the Road) is a fairly nondescript release, making it a disappointment given it comes from artists brimming with the talent these two display on stage every night. Rather than giving fans new material into which to sink their teeth, 8 of the 10 tracks on the CD are weak covers of other artistsí songs. On Woody Guthrieís This Morning I Am Born Again, Paul leads and Gilbert harmonizes. On Lucinda Williamsí Side of the Road, Gilbert leads and Paul harmonizes. The only true collaborative duet on the album is Citizen of the World, an anti-nationalistic anthem full of undergraduate dorm room platitudes over an otherwise decent tune. The best part of the record is that both guys have deliciously smooth voices. The worst part is that they chose some really boring songs around which to wrap their voices.
Fortunately for newcomers to either artistís repertoire, both of these guys have done better. Vance Gilbertís album Shaking Up Gravity merges soul and folk like youíve never heard before. Itís a modern masterpiece in the singer-songwriter genre. Likewise, Ellis Paulís best disc Translucent Soul is an embarrassment of riches and a must-own item for those who love perfect songwriting. Unfortunately, Side of the Road probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but this collaborative side project turned out to be a largely wasted effort better left unheard.
Side of the Road ó
Translucent Soul ó Ĺ
Shaking Up Gravity ó
Side of the Road is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
Shaking Up Gravity is available Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box