Guitarist Lindsay Ell describes her debut album, The Project as what you get when you combine Sheryl Crow, John Mayer and Keith Urban into one musical blender, which isn’t all that hard to imagine.
While Ell’s vocal style is reminiscent of Crow’s, she’s toured extensively with Urban and even used Mayer’s album, Continuum as a starting point for recording the album. The result is a tasty collection of guitar wizardry, inspired songwriting and heartfelt emotion.
Produced by Grammy-winner Kristian Bush (Sugarland), The Project is also the first group of songs Ell’s recorded where she says she feels like herself. I recently spoke with Ell about The Project, songwriting, gear and more in this new interview.
What was it like working with Kristian Bush on The Project?
It was amazing to work with someone who’s already been the artist, songwriter and producer. He understands so many different sides. I called the record The Project because it actually felt like a science project in trying to discover my identity.
Tell me how you used John Mayer as a pre-requisite for this new album.
In one of our first meetings, Kristian asked me what my favorite record of all time was. After I told him Continuum by John Mayer he said, “Ok, perfect. I want you to go into the studio and record that whole album. The only rules are, you only have two weeks and you have to play all of the instruments yourself.” So, for the next 14 days I recorded Continuum.
In the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing but had enough faith and trust in Kristian to know that there would always be a purpose behind it. After two weeks, I handed over the CD and told him how much I had learned about the way John played guitar, about how I play guitar and most importantly, how I’d love to hear a band recorded in the studio.
That’s when he said, “Well, now it’s time for us to go in and record your album.” It was a crazy thing but really laid the groundwork for us in finding the sound for The Project.
What’s your songwriting process like?
It depends. Every song is so different but the guitar is a huge part of who I am. I’m inspired a lot by a guitar riff or musical idea first and the rest of the song will usually grow from that.
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