Stop, drop and scroll down to listen to this exclusive preview of "Who Am I To Judge?" from new acoustic duo, Kelly&Ellis.
The song, from Casey Kelly and Leslie Ellis' upcoming album The Long Road to You, is like a musical love-child of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Brian Wilson. The hooky melody is a perfect dance partner for the independent-minded lyrics:
Religious right, or wrong?
Serious art, or porn?
And as for same-sex bride and groom
Is it anybody's business who does what with whom?
Who am I to judge?
Who am I to say what anybody does?
If it works for them, then I'm asking you my friend,
Who am I to judge?
A bit about how these two rambled and roamed down The Long Road to You:
After graduating from the prestigious Carnegie-Mellon University with a degree in acting and music, Leslie Ellis journeyed from Broadway (City of Angels, Cats, Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber) to Berkley to Nashville, picking up a Grammy Award along the way for her vocal contributions to Celine Dion mega-hit "My Heart Will Go On."
Casey Kelly's college years were spent opening arena concerts for major artists; a stint writing at the hit making factories at 1650 Broadway and the Brill Building; touring with Loggins & Messina, The Beach Boys and BB King; and writing hit songs (Grammy nominated #1 “Anyone Who Isn’t Me Tonight” recorded by Kenny Rogers & Dottie West, George Strait staple "The Cowboy Rides Away," Tanya Tucker’s “Soon”).
So, at this point, it's pretty clear we're swimming in deep waters :)
Thematically, this collection of songs frames the duo's well-travelled talents as the diverse ingredients they are. Americana, Celtic, R&B, Broadway, pop and country meld effortlessly allowing Kelly&Ellis to lay claim to their own unique musical space, proving that artful songwriting and musical talent is always a recipe for success.
Among the winning new works, "I Just Don't Understand It," "An Ordinary Day," and "(I Ain't Just) A Pretty Face" are highlights showcasing range as well unmistakeable chemistry.
In addition to the craft and skill on display here, I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that Leslie Ellis' voice is easily one of my favorite musical instruments in the world. And throughout the album's thirteen tracks, Kelly's genius guitar work is undeniable.
Along with new songs, both artists re-visit and re-invent past musical triumphs. Ellis' lithe vocals take flight over a steady, earthy drum beat on "My Heart Will Go On," while she folds her country years back into a luscious and rich renewal of "Memory" from her Cats days. Check the intimate duet between Ellis and Casey's guitar at the "If you touch me" 4:05 mark. That's art, kids.
Kelly's take on "The Cowboy Rides Away" reveals a life well-lived with a vocal that feels as warm and comfortable as my favorite 20 year old cowboy boots; and the duo's teaming on "Anyone Who Isn't Me Tonight" bounces and beams with sass for days.
The Long Road to You drops this Friday, but you can pre-order on iTunes here, or click over to the Kelly&Ellis official site for those who like a CD you can hold in your hands.
Follow Kelly&Ellis on Facebook here, on Twitter here, and on Instagram here.