It’s not an easy task to make a quality cover of a track from one of the most well-known artists in country music history. The sentiment many times gets lost in translation, and the result can be something more like a reenactment than a new and heartfelt rendition. Singer-songwriter Robert Ellis was able to cut through the sea of challenges and created this powerful version of a George Jones classic that still gives a respectful nod to the original.
Shortly after Jones’ death in 2013, Ellis recorded this version of “The Grand Tour”, which was originally released in 1974. The song is seen as a marker of Jones’ incredible performance capabilities, with stark imagery and a brutally honest spoken narrative. Ellis’ stripped-down rendition keeps the feeling of a startlingly honest conversation that has made the song influential to so many.
You may not have heard of Robert Ellis before, but he’s one of the many artists sitting on the edge of country that deserves more appreciation than he’s been handed. He’s been performing since 2010, and gained credibility within the indie scene after American Songwriter Magazine named his second album, Photographs, as one of the top 50 albums of 2011. Soon after, he relocated to Nashville, Tenn. from Austin, Texas to record his third album, The Lights from the Chemical Plant, which was released in 2014.
You can hear the obvious influence of artists like Jones, Ray Price, and Marty Robbins in all of his music, even on the more experimental tracks. Although his latest effort has many more of an alt-pop feel than his earlier releases, Ellis is one of the many 20-somethings in Nashville, like fellow Texan Cale Tyson, who are keeping their roots planted firmly in the twangier, more traditional country sound.
Ellis is an artist who has been smart enough to combine qualities from his favorite artists to make a sound and statement that’s all his own. To hear more of Robert Ellis’ music, visit his official website.