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Robert Ellis, ‘Photographs’ (New West)

“Don’t you think just ?’cause I’m nice I can’t be mean,” Robert Ellis sings ?on Photographs‘ penultimate track, “No Fun.” His plainspoken, deadpan drawl does make the Houston singer-songwriter sound terribly nice, even when giving voice to the occasional roguish character. His second album splits the difference between steady-rolling honky-tonk twang and sensitive balladry, perfectly adorned with Will Van Horn’s pedal-steel flourish. Meanwhile, the amiable singer projects a Zen sense of calm, part Gram Parsons and part John Darnielle, whether he’s singing about growing old or getting even. He’s only 22, but sounds well acquainted with both.?