Ellis is back. She will be here this Sunday in the Underground at 9 p.m. I will be there, and you’d better be too. She played here a few years back and played an amazing show. Fans of the coffeehouse style of music will love the show. Her songs range from powerful and strong to quiet personal songs between friends.Naturally, many people will compare her to Ani DiFranco because both women are amazing folk singers. The main difference between the two is sense of humor. Ellis’s shows are filled with asides and stories that are hilarious and free flowing. And where Ani often seems angry in her songs, Ellis seems hopeful, even at the saddest moments.
Ellis is here in support of her new album “Evidence of Joy,” which is a collection of live songs compiled by her fans. I can’t wait to pick it up when I get to the show. It is filled with a bunch of my favorites by her.
Let’s break it down for a second. I only own one official album of hers, “Tigers Above, Tigers Below.” I was surprised to see that one of the major contributors to “Tigers” is Travis McNabb. Yeah, you heard me right. Travis, as in Travis the drummer from the great New Orleans band Better Than Ezra. His drumming makes the songs go from intimate folk to powerful folk rock.
“Tigers” is an album filled with sweet love songs and powerful political tracks like “Freedom,” where she sings, “Keep your ideals shut, lest someone reveal / how un-American you are / this price tag on / safety is no guarantee / we’ve traded justice for corporate money / our vision is filtered, and spun for a show / the battle between evil and a comic book hero.”
My favorite song from that album has to be “Broken,” a love song to a far-off lover. Usually when she does this song live, she does it without a mic and just sings to the hushed crowd. It’s such a lovely, honest song with great lines like, “It’s alright, it’s OK that you struggle with the unknown / and it’s alright, it’s OK if for a while you let me go / spinning wheels can wear you down, don’t forget I miss you / it’s alright when you come home / to come back broken.” Hearing those lines coming right from the singer’s mouth is such a beautiful intimate moment.
The other album I own is a live recording of Ellis playing at Ripon College. A guy gave me the album and I have to say that she is as amazing live as she is in the studio.
So on Sunday come down to see Ellis in the Underground at 9 p.m., hear some real heartfelt folk and buy a CD or two or three. Listen to the songs, stories, jokes, and ramblings, and watch a tiny singer-songwriter bubble over with enthusiasm and grin ear-to-ear. By the end she should have you grinning ear-to-ear, too.