Chart-topping North American musician, vocalist and songwriter Lindsay Ell has released her highly anticipated sophomore album heart theory. Powerful single wAnt me back, which was co-written with Kane Brown, Matt McGinn and Lindsay Rimes tells a great story. This is Lindsay’s first new original album music in three years and in the lead up she captivated excited fans with a digital scavenger hunt, teasing the big news across social platforms before revealing album details on TikTok.
heart theory is an incredibly personal concept album comprised of twelve tracks that journey through each stage of grief; shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing and finally, acceptance. Ell co-wrote eleven of the songs, enlisting help from acclaimed writers & artists including Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brandy Clark among others on the project. Lindsay tells Hi Fi Way more about the album.
Congratulations on the album, with all the challenges going on globally right now are relieved it is done and out to the people?
I’m so excited that my album is finally out! It’s obviously not the most ideal time to release a record, but my wish is that it can bring some people some hope and joy in these unprecedented times.
Did you think that COVID would throw up as many challenges as it did?
I guess I thought that it was possible that it could be this bad, but I hoped that it wouldn’t be. It still seems like there is so many unknowns. But the process of releasing my album has really helped me through it. I’ve had something to hyper focus on. I do miss touring incredibly, and I can’t wait to be able to get out there and play these songs live for fans.
Did you think this album would be so soul cleansing going through the seven stages of grief?
I didn’t realise I was writing about the stages until I was already doing it, and after that realisation I thought it would be cool to follow that thread. I was able to dig deep and examine all my past relationships and work on some of the things that I was still holding onto. I was also able to finally address my past as a survivor of sexual assault by writing my song “make you” with the incredible Brandy Clark. It was a subject I had tried for years to write about, but I just hadn’t nailed it yet. Writing that song in particular was incredibly therapeutic.
How did you feel after writing the album?
After writing the album, I felt so empowered. Not only had I done a lot of work for myself that lifted up my soul, but I knew that I’d created a body of work that could help others through their struggles. And I got that kind of feedback immediately. That was an incredibly humbling and empowering feeling.
How was it working with producer Dann Huff?
When I moved to Nashville, I put Dann Huff on my vision board. So, working with him was a true bucket list moment. As excited as I was to work with him, I was also a bit nervous. He’s one of the greatest guitarists to ever exist, so I felt really vulnerable. But he was so gracious and such an incredible leader. He never made me feel like I wasn’t in the driver’s seat, while doing everything he could to elevate my vision and help me make the best record possible. They warn you about meeting your idols, but in this case it worked out great!
Did it all unfold as you thought it would?
It was better than expected! Like I said, I went in a bit worried that he wouldn’t think that I was worthy and I left the process feeling lifted, heard, understood and respected. Dann was truly a gift.
Did you enjoy collaborating on the song writing with this album?
Absolutely. I got to write with some of the best writers in Nashville and it was an absolutely joy to share that experience with each of them. They helped me raise my bar as a songwriter. My first single, wAnt me back, is Kane Brown’s first outside cut as a writer, which is really amazing. It was so fun getting to see the writer side of Kane when I’d only known him as an artist. And Brandy Clark helped bring make you to life. It was a song I’d been trying to write for years, but was struggling with and she helped pull that song out of me. She is a genius and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Is there anyone you want to work with next time?
I have so many people I would love to work with, but I feel like it’s probably way too soon to even think about the next record. This one is still so fresh, I would probably just say let’s go back to Dann! We will just have to see the shape the songs are taking when it comes time to make LE3.
It is interesting with the mix of lower case and upper case with the song titles, what was the thought process behind that?
I wanted to plant a fun Easter egg in the packaging and when we were laying out the artwork we discovered that we could actually spell the album title by highlighting letters through the titles. It just seemed too good to be true that it worked so perfectly that I knew we had to do it. It’s been fun having people notice.
What did you think when you played the final version of the album back for the first time?
I was really proud. It’s so cool to be able to record a record with a producer I’ve looked up to for so many years and then be able to work with him…and learn why he’s so good. I mean, he’s even better than I thought he was. Now I understand why everyone says he’s as good as he is. Dann pulled the best out of me and forced me to go to places as an artist outside of my comfort zone where I was able to unlock new potential – as a musician and singer. So getting to listen back and hear what we created was beyond what I could’ve hoped for.
Interview By Rob Lyon