There’s not much grey area to Ellis Paul’s music: You either like the modern day folkie’s music or you don’t. And if you do happen to fall into former category, chances are you love it. Like John Prine and Gary Clark before him, minus the country/Americana influences, Paul is first and foremost a lyricist, telling a story with each and every song he puts out. The Storyteller’s Suitcase, Paul’s 20th album, is no different.
Whether talking about a family reunion that ends with cop cars and fire engines on “Five Alarm Fire on the 4th of July,” a war vet robbing the local grocery store in his small hometown (“Scarecrow in a Corn Maze”) or the seemingly autobiographical title track, Paul eschews the easy wordplay and clichés for more complex stories and characters. At 13 tracks, not every one here is destined to remain in Paul’s set list for years to come, but the album opener “I Ain’t Jesus” certainly has the feel of a soon-to-be live show staple.
Armed with little more than an acoustic guitar, whispered vocals and a slew of great lyrics, Paul yet again gives his admirers another reason to stick with him.