Ronny Elliott's fifth CD finds this wandering, guitar-slinging, hand-wringing troubadour with another bunch of more-than-slightly off-kilter songs guaranteed to puzzle fans of country as much as it pleases them.
Why would it puzzle them? Even though Elliott plies the long lost art of the story-song that Townes Van Zant, Guy Clark and Bob Dylan excel at, Elliott manages to throw in a bunch of curveballs and points of view from odd perspectives that will surprise and even befuddle the most jaded country listener. From the opener, "Loser's Lullaby," that ties in the stories of "Pablo Picasso," "Sugar Ray Robinson" and "Hank Williams" (?) to the almosty epic story of Degas in New Orleans, Elliott binds the most disparate and opposite elements and, surprisingly, makes them into one cohesive story. It's almost as if he said 'To hell with a simple love song or something about a lost dog' (although, to be fair, Elliott includes a gentle love song "Wrong Side' that will make the hackles on your neck stand up for its' beauty and honesty) and decided to throw things about Paris, the legendary Sun Studios, and a few spaceships in there just to spice the songs up.
Despite these lyrical eccentricities, Elliott is a masterful enough songwriter to make you believe all of these exploits and stories as if they were told to you firsthand or even happened to you. Elliott's imagination and storytelling powers create wonderful tales worthy of attention. It's also clear that fans seeking these great songs from this storyteller will have to seek him out with a little more effort and passion. (Blue Heart, 179 Baltic Circle, Tampa, FL 33606, 813-254-5388)