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By Christo Collins

Photos: Greyland

Design: Annette Morgan | Instagram

Wearing sparkly, silver bell bottoms and a red satin Budweiser jacket, badass is not only a major part of Lindsay Ell’s lexicon, it’s also a major part of who she is. Ell is headlining the Budweiser CMA showcase at the Exit/In in Nashville, Tennessee. Hometown and local shows bring out everyone, the tour bus is a revolving door of industry, family and friends (including recent Greyland alumn Cassadee Pope). This show would be the latter for Ell. Canada raised, she notes Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt as her earliest influence.

Ell picked up a guitar at age eight under the eye of her father, who started her off with a guitar classic “Stairway to Heaven.” Shortly after she’d attend Bluegrass camps, which is where she says she really learned how to play. It’s obvious however, that a lot of Ell’s influences come from the world of blues and rock, she also notes Vaughn, Clapton and Hendrix amongst her biggest influences.

The majority of 2018 has seen Ell traveling, opening for Brad Paisley, Sugarland and fellow Nashville transplant Keith Urban. “I will say just finishing our run with Keith was truly eye opening.  Keith called me out every night to close the show with the song we sing together on GraffitiU called “Horses.”  Being able to sing Horses with Keith, watch the crowd sing it back to us and go toe to toe with him with our guitars was definitely a moment I will never forget.”

While most artists get burnt out after touring for an entire year, Ell is on track to play 235 shows this year, no small feat. In addition to traveling with some of countries most successful acts, Ell went overseas for a bit this year. Prior to flying out, she experienced an unfortunate bout of, what I like to refer to as, Cali Hospitality. “Right before I flew to the UK for this past tour, I had gotten my car broken into in LA while I was recording late in Hollywood. My backpack, with a whole bunch of gear inside, and wallet stolen. Then six hours later I flew across the country to a radio show in New York, and the airline lost my pedalboard. In about 12 hours I lost pretty much all of my gear I had planned my whole UK tour around.”

My sophomore album is very important to me. I really want this album to say something, and I definitely think I have some new songs that will help me do just that.

“I ended up flying over with just my guitar and a drum machine app I had downloaded on my phone. Shows in the UK are some of my favorites, because the fans are so incredible.  The first show of the tour was a sold-out club show at the Borderline in London.  I remember walking onstage, and the crowd was singing “Waiting On You,” so loud, that I didn’t even need to step up to the mic. Moments like that make everything worth it.”

2018 also saw the release of the Continuum Project. An ambitious album of John Mayer covers from what some would call his pinnacle album. Given to her as a homework assignment by her producer Kristian Bush. “He gave me no rules other than I had to record the whole thing by myself, play all the instruments, and finish it in two weeks.” While that might sound like an insane task to anyone, it was a project Ell considered an “ultimate discovery in creativity.” “I found myself really studying why I loved that album so much. Everything from recording “The Continuum Project,” really helped pave the way for me going into the studio to record my own album “The Project.”

When asked what she’s working on now Ell says she’s been writing for the past few months. “There is always the saying that you have your whole life to record your first album, and then under a year to write and record your second album. My sophomore album is very important to me. I really want this album to say something, and I definitely think I have some new songs that will help me do just that. “

Her entrance at last night’s show in Nashville was phenomenal. Before walking on stage Lindsay hid out behind the thick black curtain and riffed the opening chords to her song, moments after her band started, she walked out to an eager crowd. It’s clear to see studying the ways of her idols have paid off. Lindsay Ell is a badass.