Lindsay Ell frequently gives her time to various causes, including the military. This past weekend was no exception, as Ell appeared at El Paso with Dustin Lynch and Craig Morgan at BaseFEST Powered by USAA. The event, a music experience designed to bring live music directly to military communities on base, is one Ell is proud to be a part .
“BaseFEST is giving back to our veterans, and people in our military, and so I'm honored to just be a part the experience,” Ell told Billboard. “I've never got to play at Fort Bliss, so it was so great to meet and connect with my Army friends as well as our men and women in service.” She said it does have a personal meaning for her. “My bass player is actually a veteran himself, so it was a really special day.”
Playing military-related events is something that Ell tries to do whenever she can. “There's just an honor, and there's an appreciation when we can play veterans events. It's a way for us to be able to give back and say thanks for all these men and women fighting for our country, who have, and who are currently.”
Of course, the live experience is a little different for Ell these days, as she is currently promoting her biggest single to date with "Criminal." Each week, she can’t believe her eyes. “It's crazy, it is so insane to be able to look at the chart and see that I have a top 20 song. I mean, I've dreamed this ever since I was a little girl. It's just been really exciting to see more and more people sing along at shows, and fans were so excited. It's just a feeling that I've never gotten to experience before."
As an artist that has been releasing singles since 2013, why does Ell think “Criminal” has connected so well with audiences?
“I think it's very honest,” she says. “I wrote it about exactly what was going on in my life at the time, and because fans have been able to share a bit in my story my personal life and career over the past few years, I think they're able to connect with that. There’s also being in the studio with Kristian Bush as producer. I feel like I finally was able to find my sound, and who I was, and who I am as an artist, which sometimes takes a minute. Connecting all those ducks and putting them in a row, and working with him over the past couple years, he's really been able to help me articulate that. And I think once it's right, it connects better.”
One other positive aspect a hit record is that the fans sing it back to you. Ell says that’s something she will never forget. “It's just this high that is so great. It feels like all your blood, sweat, and tears that you had worked tirelessly into that moment are all the payf, and pay back to you right in that second. It's the power music being a universal language, and it's a bunch us coming together, getting to share in this experience. And to think that I wrote a song that can create that connection, it feels surreal.”
By year's end, Ell will have appeared on plenty stages. In addition to her own gigs, the singer/guitarist just completed the Brad Paisley tour, and she’ll be on the road with Sugarland this summer.
"This year will have a lot stage time, and that's just the way we love it,” she says beaming. "We just wrapped up the Paisley tour and it was just wonderful. We've been on the road with Brad for over a year now, and he's just been so gracious, and an incredible human. And we start the Sugarland tour in July, and I am so excited to be on the road with my producer, as well as I've gotten to tour with Jennifer in the past. I'm so excited for the both them, that they get to release music and tour again, and I'm just so happy to be able to see a Sugarland show. And, to open the show every night for them and warm up that stage, it's going be a really, really good summer.”
Before spring ficially comes to an end, fans will get to enjoy new music from Ell, as she will release The Continuum Project, which she co-produced and co-engineered, on May 25. If that title sounds familiar, there’s a pretty good reason. “Before we even started recording The Project, Kristian asked me, 'Lindsay, what's your favorite record all time?' And I was like, 'Well, that would be Continuum by John Mayer.' And he said, 'Perfect, I want you to go record the whole album.' And I just looked at him blankly, and he said, 'Your only rules are you need to play every single instrument, you need to do it by yourself at your studio at the label. You can be the only one in the room, and you have two weeks.'"
As it turns out, Bush’s assignment helped refine Ell’s creative process before making her first full-length disc. “It really made the gears click. It really made me know exactly how I wanted my record to sound. So, when we were going into the studio to record The Project, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I knew what instruments I wanted on it, and I knew how I wanted the songs to sound. And so, fast forward now, The Project has been out, we have a single coming up the charts, and fans have been asking, 'Well when are you going to release Continuum? We want to hear it.' I asked the label if they'd allow me to do release it, and they said, 'Well course, if the fans want it, then let's get it out there.'"