Lindsay Ell visited Rolling Stone Country‘s Nashville studio last week in the middle of a doctor-ordered vocal break to talk (softly) about her feel-good new single, “By the Way.”
Co-written by Ell, Barry Dean and Luke Laird, the uptempo tune flips the switch on a typical breakup song, putting “Mr. Cowboy Boots” and “Mr. Baseball Cap” in their places and asserting that their mistreatment of the narrator only led her down happier paths.
“I remember walking into the room that day with Luke and Barry and wanting to write a really female empowering song,” Ell tells us. “Shania Twain was such an idol of mine growing up. . . and Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt and all of these strong women. All of their music and songs said something. So I remember that day being like, ‘I wanna write music that says something.’ One of those songs where girls can be like, ‘I know what that feels like. I’ve been there.’ Not every relationship needs to be sad and down in the dumps after it. You learn from it. You learn what you want and what you don’t want, and you move forward.”
Widely praised for her guitar prowess, Ell played acoustic guitar, electric guitar, ganjo and mandolin on the track. The 26-year-old musician is adamant about playing on her own recordings. In fact, she likens hiring a studio musician to play guitar to hiring someone else to sing lead vocals.
“Being a guitar player is like another voice,” she says. “It’s an additional part of the song; you can say a little bit more. It gives me an extra dimension to connect to an audience. So when I’m in the studio, if I’m not playing guitar on my own record then I’m missing a huge part of what I want to express and a huge part of me that I want fans to see.”
Rolling Stone Country will have the exclusive premiere of Ell’s “By the Way” lyric video tomorrow (October 21st).