I love a concept album. I also love songs written from a personal perspective. So when it was revealed that Lindsay Ell’s new album ” Heart Theory” ( Released 14th August 2020 via BMG/BBR Music Group) would tick both those boxes I couldn’t wait to hear the results. Throw into the mix Lindsay’s incredible vocals and off the scale guitar playing, and what could go wrong?
Very little it seems, the second album of original material from this hugely talented artist is an absolute stunner. Co-writing all but one of the tracks, it was always going to be a challenge for Lindsay to follow up her successful debut ” The Project” ( accolades include it being named Billboard’s Best Country Album of 2017 ) but together with producer Dann Huff she has come up with an album that is so well thought out and executed that I feel she has surpassed herself . Even more impressive as the two had to finish the album from a distance due to the covid-19 pandemic restrictions.
Taking us on a journey through the various stages of the grieving process which Lindsay analyses in the context of a relationship breakdown, starting with shock and ending with acceptance, her writing throughout is both honest and relatable….. check out the fantastic list of collaborators too! Oh and as an aside, this is definitely an album to be listened to from top to bottom…..no shuffle mode, please! She incorporates some clever word play on several tracks ( check out ” Good On You” and ” Go To” for starters) and I love the well observed ” Body Language Of A Break Up” . The personal nature of all twelve writes helps ensure her vocal delivery conveys her evolving emotions at every stage, but never more so than on ” Make You”, one of the four songs made available pre-release, which is the perfectly placed penultimate track forming part of the ” acceptance” section. Arguably one of the bravest songs of recent years, this piano led ballad sees Lindsay opening up about being raped in her early teens; once again the aforementioned wordplay is used to great effect and it is ultimately an uplifting, empowering song, the more stripped back arrangement helping focus attention on its important message from the start.
While the conceptual nature of this album provides cohesiveness, there’s a great variety in production throughout ” Heart Theory”, which will no doubt give it a broad appeal outside the country fanbase Lindsay has already amassed. Alongside her contemporary country sound there’s songs which ooze R&B, blues and jazz vibes, and when it comes to instrumentation ( again, such variety ) Lindsay’s insane guitar playing was always going to be a feature as mentioned earlier, with fabulous solos screaming out on many tracks, but it never detracts from or overly dominates the arrangements.
Favourites for me? ” Make You” has already been mentioned, but at the moment I’d include ” Wrong Girl” and ” The Other Side”….but then again, ask me tomorrow and depending on my mood they may well have changed! ” Wrong Girl” is a relatively short song falling midway on the track listing and forming part of the album’s ” anger” section. It’s the turning point of the unfolding story for me, all about Lindsay taking back control of her life after finally realising what has been going on in the relationship. She was kept dangling on a string and used, ” someone to call when there’s something you need”, and she’s not willing to be that person any more. She won’t be manipulated. either ……” I’m not gonna change ‘cos I’m already good”…yes!!!! It’s a suitably fast paced track with a lot of attack, attitude and energy.
” The Other Side” comes three tracks later, there’s a much gentler feel to this jazzy produced song which is about coming through all the tough parts of a breakup and emerging a happier, stronger person from the experience. I can almost see that big smile on Lindsay’s face as she realises she’s over the worst of things and it ” turns out life without you ain’t really all that bad”. And just listen to the beautiful strings which come in half way through on this one!
Yes, I am really enjoying every high and low of this rollercoaster ride Lindsay takes us on throughout ” Heart Theory”. She says of the record ” I hope this roadmap can be a comfort if you need it, reassurance when you need to remember to believe in yourself or maybe just a glimpse into a memory that’s made you who you are”.
There are definitely many different ways to connect with this release, which will depend on your experiences and situation, but whatever stage of life you find yourself at there will be a track here with a special meaning for you, I can guarantee.
The album is available to pre order now Here
” Heart Theory” Track Listing/Writing Credits
1. ” Hits Me” ( Lindsay Ell, Tyler Hubbard, Corey Crowder)
2. ” How Good” ( Lindsay Ell,Brandy Clark)
3. I Don’t Love You” ( Adam Hambrick,Melissa Fuller, Neil Madley)
4. ” Want Me Back ” ( Lindsay Ell, Kane Brown, Matt McGinn, Lindsay Rimes”
5. ” Get Over You” ( Lindsay Ell, Gordie Sampson, Kelly Archer)
6. ” Wrong Girl” ( Lindsay Ell, Steph Jones, Matt McGinn, Luke Niccoli)
7. ” Body Language Of A Break Up” ( Lindsay Ell, Laura Veltz, Sam Ellis)
8. ” Good On You” ( Lindsay Ell, Sam Ellis, Micah Premnath)
9. “The Other Side” ( Lindsay Ell, Jessie Jo Dillon, Matt McGinn )
10. ” Go To” ( Lindsay Ell, Nicolle Galyon, Jordan Reynolds)
11. ” Make You” ( Lindsay Ell, Brandy Clark)
12. Ready To Love” ( Lindsay Ell, Jessie Jo Dillon, Matt McGinn, Joey Hyde)