Lindsay Ell: ‘I’m a Huge Guitar Nerd’
Lindsay Ell is a rare commodity these days, and she knows it. The singer-songwriter is also an accomplished guitarist, whose abilities have garnered the praise of Keith Urban, Luke Bryan and Chris Isaak, among others.
"I’m a huge guitar nerd. We'll put it that way," Ell tells The Boot. "I’ve been playing guitar ever since I was eight years old, and it just has become a part of me. It’s why I look up to artists like Keith Urban and Brad Paisley, and even John Mayer, how they fuse their songwriting into their singing into their performing and their guitar playing and musicianship. It’s the whole package of them that makes them some of my favorite artists to go watch a show."
Ell is especially inspired by Urban, whose guitar skills she's admired since she began focusing on country music.
"Keith can sit there with an acoustic guitar and have the audience in the palm of his hands. And then he can stand up there with sound and light and all of those dramatic productions and just wail on a solo," Ell explains. "Having those black-and-white dynamics within a show is a game-changer. It’s so inspiring for me; it’s definitely something I strive to do."
There aren't many female guitar greats, the Canadian-born artist concedes -- but she hopes to inspire a new generation of women musicians.
"Bonnie Raitt was a huge inspiration to me growing up, just because she was the epitome of a strong woman on stage. Bonnie and Shania Twain and Sheryl Crow and the Dixie Chicks -- they get so fragile and delicate and vulnerable onstage and in their lyrics, but they’re such strong women," Ell gushes. "That’s a huge focus to me: I want to be a role model to little girls, as Shania was to me when I was growing up."
A native of Calgary, Alberta, Ell moved to Nashville about six years ago, and admits that Music City has made her feel at home.
"Nashville was the one place in the U.S. that reminded me of Canada, just because everybody was so friendly," she recalls. "I remember the first day I got here, I knew one person on a piece of paper, their name. And I had my guitar on my back, and I walked off the plane, and I’m like, ‘Well, if I’m going to do it, this is the time to do it.’ From that point forward, it was just writing and meeting people. People would always be like, ‘Honey, come on over to the house, and we’ll cook you dinner, and we’ll have a jam session.’ I’m like, ‘What is this place? This is crazy.’
"I was so welcome, so Nashville was an easy transition," Ell adds. "I feel like it’s like a big family."
Ell will spend much of the summer on the road, while also finishing up an EP and focusing her attention on her first full-length album.
"We’ve been in the studio, just working like crazy on a whole bunch of new songs," she says. "I feel like I’m finally falling into a new groove of how I want to sound and what I want to say."
Watch Lindsay Ell's Jaw-Dropping One-Woman-Band Version of "Criminal"