Before signing with New West Records in early 2011, country songwriter Robert Ellis made a name for himself in Houston, Texas. Inspired by the country, folk, and bluegrass records he’d heard while growing up in southern Texas, Ellis began playing shows around the city, eventually landing a Wednesday night residency at a local venue called Fitzgerald’s.
His audience grew as a result of those weekly shows, nicknamed "Whiskey Wednesdays" for their rowdy nature and half-drunk clientele, and Ellis earned more fans on the strength of his self-released debut, The Great Rearranger. One of those converted fans was George Fontaine, Sr., president of New West Records, who signed Ellis in 2011. Photographs was released that summer, mixing acoustic folk songs with up-tempo country numbers. The album was selected by American Songwriter as one of its Top 50 albums for that calendar year. Ellis toured the United States and Europe before relocating to Nashville.
His more eclectic sophomore album, The Lights from the Chemical Plant, was recorded there and produced by Jacquire King; it was issued in February of 2014.