First Impression : Nick Ellis : Heartbreak City

With a sound already described as "a conversation between Elvis Costello and John Martyn", from a few songs you could spend hours chasing hints of influence to demarcate the musical hinterland of Liverpool's Nick Ellis. He at least has the plain lyrical dexterity of Billy Bragg (c. Levi Stubbs' Tears), the consistent songwriting craft of Martin Stephenson (c. Boat to Bolivia), and at times plays instrumentals with a dazzling intensity that could spark a whole encyclopedia of comparison - but you'd be better investing the time exploring his inimitable music fully.

Ellis' urban folk-hymns offer kitchen-sink-dramatic stories tightly bound by melodies that follow you round for days after one listen. Start with Hearbreak City (above), then try a touch of Clock Watching before advancing to a copy of his superb second album, Adult Fiction, released last December and one of the finest LPs we have heard in the last five years.

After that, his initial EP, Grace & Danger, and first album, Daylight Ghosts, are crucial ports of call.