Lindsay Ell has a lot she wants to say on her next record. The album will be the follow-up to her 2017 The Project, which included Ell's first Top 20 hit in the United States, with "Criminal." As Ell writes and records songs for her next set of tunes, she worked hard to find the balance between what she wants to say as an artist, and what fans want to hear on the radio.
Thankfully, for Ell, she found a solution, which is why she is back in the studio, once again working with Sugarland's Kristian Bush to ready the record for her fans. But perhaps at least a small part of the credit goes to Kacey Musgraves, whose latest Golden Hour project just took home four Grammy Awards, including both Album of the Year and Country Album of the Year.
"It's a weird thing as an artist," Ell reflected to PopCulture.com. "I mean, we just finished watching the Grammys and watching Kacey take home the biggest award of the night, which was so amazing and I was so proud of her and everybody involved in her record. I think that's the perfect example of that of she completely said, 'I'm going to be who I am, and I'm going to just be the artist I am.' It's so inspiring to watch that album win Album of the Year, because it's just such a work of art. It's so beautiful."
Ell is realizing that not everything she writes and records has to have massive commercial appeal, but nor does every song have to be a personal expression of who she is and what she wants to say.
"We're trying to write songs to get them on the radio in country music, and yet still trying to have an album like that," Ell said of Golden Hour. "My brain literally breaks my album in half. I'm writing songs to get them to be played on the radio, but I'm writing half my record for me too. If I don't have those songs that really show fans who I am, and what I'm going through, and say what I want to say that might not be the most commercial thing, then what's the point of making your own record?"
The Canadian is sectioning off her new album in a way that ensures something for both her and her growing fan base.
"I look at my record in half," explained Ell. "Maybe that'll be four songs, six songs. Maybe it'll be five and five. Maybe it'll be seven and four. I don't even know how many songs are going to end up on the album yet, but I kind of split it in two parts. I need some radio songs, and then I need songs that I know when I play a live show that fans are going to geek out at and they're going to get excited too.
"Maybe in the best of every world, those two worlds can collide and a song can be part of both categories, but it's okay if there's two different categories," she continued. "It's okay. They can easily end up on the same album and it sound fluid. They aren't completely different things, but they're just a different mindset when I go into the studio and I record it."
Before Ell can continue working on her new record, she will perform on Friday night, Feb. 15, at the iconic New Faces Show at the annual CRS (Country Radio Seminar) event. Ell is not just the only female artist performing, but she was also the only female among 13 artists nominated, a fact that drew outrage from Ell's former boyfriend, Bobby Bones. But regardless of the ethics surrounding the voting process to earn a coveted slot, Ell will take the stage in front of hundreds of radio personnel and industry executives – a fact that is both exhilarating and daunting for Ell.
"I know it's a very important room. I know walking on that stage is basically playing in front of everybody who's in charge of my career for the next," Ell conceded. "I'm excited. I feel so good about the shows we've been playing recently, about all this new music I've been writing, about going into the studio to record my second album. I feel so good about it, so I'm just excited. I'm excited to perform. I'm really excited about the video we recorded, because it's kind of hilarious.
"I can't wait," she added. "I will have nerves for sure. I mean, I'm a human being, but it's more excitement. It's more like good adrenaline."
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Suzi Pratt