Past Reviews

Ellis Paul new release; Not just for kids

October 11, 2007


The Times-Record (Mid-Coast Maine)
by Seth Koenig


Special to Ticket

BATH  After 15 years of non-stop touring, singer-songwriter Ellis Paul became accustomed to late nights. But none quite prepared him for the late nights on his six weeks off.

Paul took a month and a half away from the road when his second daughter, Sofi, was born. Away from the raucous concert halls across the country, he found himself motivated to sing by a new muse.

"Pacing the floor while singing Sofi to sleep, Ellis decided to use his songwriting skills to create lyrics and music comprised of the messages he wanted to pass on to his daughters as they grow," reads a release describing Paul's 14th and latest album, "The Dragonfly Races."

So how does soothing a baby with lullabies compare to sold-out venues?

"Well, there's screaming in both situations," joked Paul on Tuesday. "You really kind of have to shut down your musician's side and sing to accomodate a single person. It's a different approach  it's a private moment versus a public moment."

"The Dragonfly Races" will be available for sale next month, but Mid-coast Mainers will get a sneak preview of some of the new material Saturday during a show at The Chocolate Church Arts Center. Paul said he wanted to be able to teach his children about the world using songs and stories to which they could relate.

"Most kids tend to listen to music that's either sing-songy or silly that people are making up," he said, "but I wanted my kids to hear music with social commentary and some fantasy involved."

Paul even illustrated pictures for the CD booklet that accompanies the songs. One is titled "The Million Chameleon March" about a group of the lizards making a point at the nation's capital  "It's about being proactive and seeking change and unifying," he said. "It's a kids' protest song."

Another of the songs is about a monster being blackmailed by a king.

"A little girl finds out the truth about the monster," Paul explained, "that the monster isn't as evil as the king has made him out to be, but the king wants the land that the monster is on."

The acclaimed songwriter said socially conscious children's music is a throwback to past, when stories like "Gulliver's Travels" carried moral overtones.

"Even songs like 'London Bridge is Falling Down' had some social commentary to it," he said. "I don't think people approach children's literature or children's music that way any more."

Paul will, though. He admitted that he's "not sure it's going to work," but he's got two pretty important fans at home who approve. And those critics, he said, matter the most.

"My 3-year-old loves what I'm doing and that's the first step: making sure that she's OK with what I'm doing," said Paul.

Originally from northern Maine, Paul launched his music career from Boston after a knee injury ended his time on the Boston College track team. His subsequent 13 Boston Music Awards is a haul second to only multi-platinum rock band Aerosmith.

The Boston Globe reported that "no emerging songwriter in recent memory has been more highly touted and respected by songwriters," while USA Today titled Paul: "Best Bet for Stardom."

"He was always unique," recalls Bill Morrissey, who produced Paul's first album in 1993, on Paul's Web site. "He didn't write like anybody, didn't sing like anybody, didn't perform like anybody. So many of the songwriters then were trying to imitate whoever they thought was successful. Ellis was always himself; he didn't try to separate himself from his audiences. Perhaps it's because he's a Mainer  there's no pretense, and I think audiences sense that."

by Seth Koenig, The Times-Record

updated: 7 years ago