Lindsay Ell is a musical force to be reckoned with, and she’s about to take country music by storm. Five months in and 2017 is already shaping up to be quite a year for the 28-year-old singer/songwriter. After much anticipation, the Calgary native released her debut EP in March entitled Worth the Wait, and watched as it quickly jumped to #2 on the iTunes Country Music Charts and #7 on the All Genres iTunes Charts. Immediately after its release fans took to social media to express their excitement and love for the newly released music from Ell with multiple Twitter and Instagram posts.
” To finally get to release new music that I feel is me was such an incredible feeling. We called the EP Worth the Wait because it describes so much of how I have felt in my career and in my life. To see it rise to the top of the charts on release day was amazing. To work so hard at something…at finding the right sound, at finding my voice…and then see that kind of reaction that fans are falling in love with it…. it’s a great indication that I’ve made honest music, for what it feels like the first time in my life,” Ell expressed to me during our email interview.
The six-song project is nothing short of amazing and has Ell’s talent on full display all the way through and cranked up to 11. The EP opens with the guitar driven first track, “Waiting on You.” A bluesy guitar riff pulls us in before Ell’s sultry vocals draws listeners into an upbeat, flirty and honest confession that hooks us all the way to the very last chord. With a groovy rhythm and clever lyrics like “I’m a July sky/you’re a bottle rocket/I’m waiting on you,” the song reveals insight into the beginning stages of Ell’s relationship with nationally syndicated radio host, Bobby Bones. Ell admitted the song was about him when another radio DJ asked about it during an interview after many were speculating about it, including Bones’ co-hosts.
The next two songs that follow, “Worth the Wait” and “Criminal” have also been confirmed to be about Ell’s relationship with Bones. “Worth the Wait” is a hauntingly beautiful track that finds Ell baring her soul in the most raw and emotional way possible with gut-wrenching lyrics like “your love is like a ghost that I can’t get my hands around” and “I guess that’s just what you do when you believe/you hold tight to something you can almost see.” On “Criminal” we get another taste of Ell’s playful bluntness as she puts her feelings out there to hang in the wind because she’s “got nothing to lose.” Ell’s willingness to expose herself lyrically in such a vulnerable way, so fearlessly is no doubt a huge part in why fans are able to relate to her the way they are.
“I believe that as a member of the entertainment industry we open our lives and our hearts to the public. If I choose to put my life on social media to let my fans in, then it’s only fair that they get to know pieces of my personal life. I think as a songwriter it means a lot to fans when they actually get to see what you’re writing about. I know when I understand where a song is coming from it allows me to connect to it on a whole different level. So in a way, I’m happy that fans know where my songwriting inspiration comes from, and only hope it can bring them closer to my music, and closer to letting it inspire them in their own lives.”
While neither of the next two songs on the EP, “Space” nor “Standing Here” were written by Lindsay, they certainly fit seamlessly on her Worth the Wait EP as if she could have written them. They’re both equally passionate and emotionally driven as they express the complications and heartbreak that come with a relationship. Ell sings them with such conviction that you can’t help but feel the pain ricocheting off of her. For these two songs Ell pulled from some of Nashville’s freshest and most talented songwriters by the names of: Caitlyn Smith, Heather Morgan, Maggie Chapman, Ryan Hurd, Melissa Pierce and Chase Chapman.
“Nashville has some of the best songwriters in the world. It’s important to me to be able to showcase that if I find a song that tells a part of my story that I haven’t told yet. The fact that I was able to cut a couple songs from friends of mine is something that I’m really proud of. My rule when making a record is what am I trying to say? If a song I find communicates that message better than one of mine, then why wouldn’t I cut it?”
The final track on Worth the Wait is a cover of one of Elle’s favorite John Mayer songs, entitled “Stop This Train,” and is from her favorite album, Continuum. Lindsay’s version of the song is just as good, if not better than the original and perfectly closes out the EP. What was interesting to learn about Ell’s latest project was that it was produced by Kristian Bush, otherwise known as one half of the award-winning country duo Sugarland.
As Lindsay explained to me, “Asking Kristian Bush to be my producer about eight months ago was one of the best decisions I could’ve made. Kristian has a heart of gold as a person, but is like a mad scientist in the studio. His talent and knowledge for bringing to life what a song is trying to say has been proven over and over again. Before all of his work in Sugarland, he was in his own band Billy Pilgrim, in which he produced record after record, defining his mark as a producer. Kristian was able to help me find my voice, not by telling me where to go, but showing me how to look deeper into myself to find it.”
Kristian’s approach wasn’t a typical move most producers make, though. Before he would begin producing Ell’s EP, he first had her record her own version of her favorite album and play all of the instruments herself. That album she chose was Continuum by John Mayer and is, I would assume, at least part of the reason “Stop This Train” ended up on the finished project of her EP. While some artists might be taken back by that order from their producer, Ell accepted it as a challenge and gave it all she had.
“I thought Kristian asking me to record my favorite record of all time was a brilliant project. We looked at it like ‘boot camp’ before going into the studio to record my own songs. I was working on my sound, writing, practicing, and trying to figure out what I wanted to say. It wasn’t until Kristian asked me to record Continuum, my favorite record, that I really tapped into that. He gave me two weeks, said I needed to play all the instruments, and I needed to do it in my own little studio by myself. After two weeks of clearing my schedule, working from 8am to 3am…putting some of my favorite music into my own voice, I found out how I like to hear a band recorded in the studio, and ultimately how I wanted to sound.”
The result is an EP that is one of the best pieces of music I have ever heard. Lindsay Ell has managed to take three different genres of music and blend them together in order to create her own unique sound of bluesy pop country that just completely works for her. Vocally, lyrically, and musically it’s abundantly clear that Ell’s talent knows no limits. And if you’ve ever listened to her music or seen her perform, there’s no denying her electrifying guitar skills. I think it goes without saying that when it comes to the guitar it’s quite evident who Ell is influenced by. But I also wanted to know who inspired her in terms of songwriting as well.
“My favorite artists are those that have so many elements of what they do. When you look at artists like John Mayer, Keith Urban, and Brad Paisley, it’s not just the way they play guitar that makes me want to listen to their music. It’s their songwriting, their singing, and their ability to perform in a way that brings the music to life. I want to show fans that I am an artist – I write songs, I sing, I perform, and I also play guitar. Each element plays a part of the puzzle. In that sense, I look up to writers like Carole King, Joni Mitchel, Otis Redding – where it’s all about the lyrics on the page, but then so much more after that.”
Lindsay Ell is one of those very rare and special artists that doesn’t come along often. She began playing piano at only six years old, guitar at eight, and then a few years later was discovered and mentored by Randy Bachman of Bachman Turner Overdrive. Ell toured with legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy in 2008 and at 21 moved to Nashville and signed a record deal with Stoney Creek Records. Fast forward to 2017 and Lindsay is opening for one of her very own guitar heroes on his world tour, along with Dustin Lynch and Chase Bryant.
“Brad is arguably one of the best guitar players in the world. It is so incredible to be out on the road with him this year. He is so generous; his whole crew have taken us in as part of their own family. I am so excited to be out on the road with Brad, Dustin and Chase this year. Watching Brad play every night is inspiring on another level. It makes me want to practice,” Lindsay stated during our interview.
The Canadian singer doesn’t plan on slowing down after that. In support of her new music, she’ll also be touring across Canada and the United States, as well as making some stops in Europe. And for fans who can’t get enough of her music, Ell also revealed that she will be releasing more new music sooner than later.
“The reception of having new music out was so incredible that we’re going to be releasing a full album later this year. I feel it’s taken me a long time to release a group of songs that really show fans who I am. Now that I’ve found that chord, I’m ready to show fans all of this music that I’ve been writing over the past few years. I cannot wait to get to release more of it. I cannot wait to share my mind, heart, and most importantly the songs that showcase it.”
Lindsay Ell is like a unicorn in country music. Her skills are limitless and almost magical, to the point that one may not believe it until they experience it for themselves. Her personality shines brighter than anyone else around her. Her incredibly positive attitude and always cheerful disposition have warmed their way into her fans’ hearts, while her hard work and dedication to everything she does are inspiring and admirable. Through her social media accounts, Ell has opened the door on her life in order to let fans follow her every step of the way so that she can connect with them however she’s able to. Musically and personally Lindsay Ell is what the heart of country music is about. She’s undeniable talent and an abundance of charm all rolled into one blonde, blue eyed, guitar slaying, shooting star that can sing her ass off at any given time.
Be aware, she’s coming for country radio with her first radio single on May 30th and she’s going to blow you away.