Lindsay Ell on frustrations as a female, end of bro-country & her debut album: Exclusive

Lindsay Ell -SMU- Hi-Res

"You can't shut me up, can't hush my mouth. I'll bang a drum; I'll be so loud," multi-faceted singer-songwriter Lindsay Ell proclaims on her brand new rock-tinged single "Shut Me Up." As only a teaser for her forthcoming debut album, the newly-minted CMT Next Women Of Country figure is taking the reigns on her career, creatively forging a path that is a little bit Miranda Lambert and a little bit Brandy Clark. With several previously tested singles (including 2013's "Trippin' On Us") under her shiny belt, Ell is boldly ready for the next phase of her upward trajectory. Upon the single's August 11 release, the track was the second most-added to radio, positioning the powerhouse to be one of the year's most-daring talents. "It’s really cool to have a song that I feel is me and allows me to play guitar and be who I am," she shares with NashvilleGab of the early response. "To be able to travel around the country playing radio shows and visiting and play it for fans is so rewarding."

"Shut Me Up" hits the eardrums like an earthquake, a blistering melody placed succinctly between searing guitar and a crystal vocal. Confidently, Ell isn't too worried about delivering on that same high-powered level moving foward. "If anything, it’s more motivating. It raises the bar. So, OK now, now you’re in the big time. It’s time to shine," she says. In the song, she takes aim at a former flame (and their all-too-public cheating ways), and she just might have someone special in mind to hear that message. "Songwriting and performing comes from so many different places. I will say I have been through a few heartbreaks, as I’m sure everyone has and think of a time in their life where this story reminds them of. That’s the great thing about music. It can help you identify to a time in your life."

The melody, particularly, took some fine tuning to get it just where she wanted it to be. "It was a really organic process. When you are writing something, you sit there with other writers in the room and try to hash out something that’s there and original and still catchy, a melody that people are gonna latch onto. Then, in the studio, you perfect it at another level. Sometimes the written song is a template; sometimes it takes on a life of its own. If you find the right key and instrumentation, the vocal itself evolves through the entire thing."

As one of CMT's Next Women, along with Brandy Clark, Angaleena Presley and Mickey Guyton (among others), she confesses the industry can be a bit frustrating. "It’s difficult to females in country to get our voices heard. It doesn’t mean that’s stopping us. I think there’s more females writing songs and doing the radio tour thing than ever. It definitely is challenging. When you look at the charts, there is a lack of estrogen," she laughs off. "The good part of Nashville is that we are all so supportive of each other. We always want to push each other up and let each other know what’s coming. We’re so happy to share the stage together. It’s a community. We know it’s tough, but we love to do it and who we’re doing it with. We’re all fighting the good fight together."

And fighting to be heard, she is. Fortunately, 2014 is the year of social media and digital streaming: two initiatives of which the star takes full advantage. "I’m a huge Twitter and Instagram fanatic. I love being able to connect with fans and have them discover me and have those different platforms to experience who I am," she says. "I started a series on YouTube called Ell Access. It’s just another way in today’s landscape to fans to be able to hear new music and really meet you."

"Sometimes, if we’re not able to go out to all these markets right away and play shows, they can still get a feel for my crazy, dorky personality. Video content and pictures are so important now," she continues. 

Over the summer, Buzzfeed ran a feature called "11 Badass Altneratives To Bro-Country," in which Ell is listed as "a bluesy Sheryl Crow with badass electric guitar skills." Elsewhere, major publications have tossed around "spitfire" and "triple-threat" to describe her talent, and she couldn't be more pleased. "I love hearing that. I definitely want the energy of who I am and what I’m trying to write in my music and what I try even promote on stage to come through. When I say that I’m a spitfire, it makes me so happy." 

As a bro-country "alternative," she offers a few thoughts about that party-hard, beer-drinking trend. "I definitely think [bro-country] has had its huge day in the sun. I don’t know if we’ve necessarily reached the peak of it, but I do think that people are wanting more to hear other things as well. It’s still selling a lot. So, anytime music is selling and people are listening to it, I’m gonna say ‘all the power to it.’ Because why should we stop that if people are liking something? But I think people are interested in hearing what else is out there. It opens up the gamut to really let other writers and songs and new artists to be heard and a new platform," she says.

With the prospects of her debut album in 2015, she says "we’ve been slowly chipping away at it. It’s always a work in progress, but it’s been an exciting one. As we cut new material, we’re defining who I am to a tee and hopefully coming down to a project that is conclusive to who I am." But the pressure of her first full-lenght isn't completely lost on her; in fact, she feels it every single day. "Not a lot of people realize [how much pressure goes into your debut album]," she says. "It’s interesting when you come to town and you’re surrounded by so much talent. It can be easy to get distracted or confused with all of the good out there. It really takes a thought process to streamline it and make sure you’re doing what you want to do and staying true to who you are. At the end of the day, that’s the final message coming out."

Lindsay Ell Shut Me Up

On her album (songwriting) collaborators, she teases, "I love Vicky McGehee and David Fanning; they were two that when we first started the project, we got on one of those rolls and really wrote a bunch of songs that worked. I love writing, too, with David Lee Murphy, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Brad Crisler. There is just so much talent in this town, from a songwriting perspective. It’s easy to want to immerse yourself in it."

Ell adds that, of course, her previously released singles will be included on the set, but she also points out two specific cuts she knows for certain will find their way onto the final product. "I have favorite called ‘What’ and another called ‘Don’t Take Me Home,’ which there are a ton of Youtube videos of. I play it a lot in my live shows. Those will definitely make it," she says.

[PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Wardwell]

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