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Ellis Paul

Ellis Paul Finds Beauty in Sugarland Friendship Article

Friday, January 15, 2010

by Craig Shelburne  

In the early 1990s, a Boston-based songwriter named Ellis Paul befriended a young man named Kristian Bush, who helped book the Eddie's Attic listening room in Decatur, Ga. They've kept in touch ever since and Bush -- who's now famous as one-half of Sugarland -- co-wrote several tunes on Paul's intriguing new album, The Day After Everything Changed. One of those collaborations is the title track, which seemed to have started as a love song, but evolved into something deeper and more complicated. When I presented my theory to Paul during a phone conversation earlier this week, he laughed out loud -- in the nicest way possible way, of course. Turns out, I was almost on target.

"There's a Japanese philosophy called 'wabi-sabi,'" he told me. "It's sort of an aesthetic. It's about objects that are both beautiful but they're decaying because of age. They're very fragile, like an old clock or a rusty old fence or maybe an old wooden boat. ... I wanted to write a song with that kind of imagery, and then apply it to a relationship."

Paul said that Bush helped him with the title, then suggested two promising Nashville producers, Thad Beaty and Jason Collum, to intensify his folk-rock leanings. Paul was impressed enough with the results to hire them for the rest of the album, which was largely recorded in Nashville. He also enlisted his loyal fan base to raise $100,000 to make the album sound like a million bucks.

"We really wanted to make it great for everybody involved," said Paul, who co-wrote several tunes for Sugarland's recent Christmas album, Gold and Green. "I've been doing this for 20 years so it's kind of a thank-you record to everybody that knows my music. We didn't cut any corners."

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