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Ell figures it out

Nashville, February 12, 2021

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

Lindsay Ell is a prototypical contemporary star on paper. She has songs that vacillate between angst and downright danceable. She has the bankable look, the voice and the moves.

But one thing separates her from her peers. She is a true musician. A really good one. It is hard to overstate how impressive a guitar player she is. The 70-minute virtual show featured her sophomore album, "Heart Theory" performed in its entirety. She deems it a healing record. It chronicles topics ranging from breakup issues to sexual abuse.

From the moment she stepped on stage to perform the catchy "Hits Me," she put her Stratocaster through its paces. She wove through country, sugary pop, blues and even rap in a stunning display of technical wizardry and soulfulness. She spent an equal amount of time taking lead duties with scorching solos and sharing the workload with band mate Austin Goodloe.

The bulk of the set featured the breakup songs ranging from the big-voiced ballad, "I Don't Love You "to a furious duet on "Wrong Girl" with Lauren Alaina that amped up the attitude and twang factor. The fast-paced rap-tinged chorus effectively showcased the anger a revenge anthem typically demands while Ell's lightning-fast fingers set pace with the rapid tempo. Later, she brought out Carly Pearce to duet on her song "Next Girl."

She displayed her musical talent on the somber tale of surviving sexual abuse, "Make You." It almost seemed counter intuitive that the platinum blonde guitar player with the scorching riffs and rock-tinged voice was sitting behind a glossy Steinway delivering an empowering tearjerker. She closed on an upbeat note by thanking her virtual audience before playing the hopeful "Ready To Love."

Ell toured with Buddy Guy when she was younger and more recently Keith Urban. She said in a recent interview "When you look at an artist like Keith Urban, he has a blues/rock show with country songs and I thought, I like this; I can figure it out." She certainly has.

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