With his latest record, The Lights From The Chemical Plant, singer/songwriter Robert Ellis takes his listeners on a game of sonic hopscotch.

While there is just enough pedal steel to make you want to declare this a country record, you can’t.  Ellis certainly draws on vintage country sounds on his third release, he also dabbles in bluegrass, jazz, 70s easy listening, and even bossa nova in creating this collection of songs that, at first listen, comes across as entirely too mature, too deep, for a songwriter just 25 years old.

Listen a bit more, though, and dig deeper into Ellis’ catalog – just spin 2011’s Photographs a few times – and you realize that Robert Ellis has been a talent in the making, and this latest record establishes Ellis as a leading voice in contemporary Americana.

The stories Ellis weaves on this record are just delicious.  “TV Song,” the opening track, marvels at the escape offered by television, while “Chemical Plant,” the track from which the record got its name, has a swelling chorus that sounds almost jubilant while spinning the all too familiar tale of American industrial decay.

And who couldn’t relate to “Houston,” a tale of getting out of town and starting over?

Ellis also takes a spin around Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years” and the results are fantastic.

Robert Ellis shares a songwriting credit with Taylor Goldsmith, of Dawes, on “Steady As The Rising Son” and has Grammy winner Jim Lauderdale as a back up vocalist.  Apparently, songwriters in the know already know what type of talent Robert Ellis is.

Get your hands on The Lights From The Chemical Plant and you will to.

In the meantime, if you want a little taste, take a listen to “Only Lies” on this month’s Trail Mix.  You can also surf over to www.robertellismusic.com for more information on the new record and when Robert Ellis will be swinging through your town.

Speaking of, our Asheville friends are in for a treat this weekend.  Robert Ellis, along with special guest T. Hardy Morris, will be dropping by The Grey Eagle on Friday, February 28th, and Trail Mix would like to give you the opportunity to go check out the show for free.

This week’s contest is simple – just shoot me an email at dave@blueridgeoutdoors.com and put ROBERT ELLIS in the subject line.  I will pick a winner (or maybe even two!!) from all the folks that email by noon on Thursday.