"She works so hard, still at this level of her career," Ell says. "Getting to talk to her and even work with her two feet away, you can just feel that energy and that passion. We were talking in rehearsals and it's all about reinventing yourself -- still working hard and, as an artist, bringing what you can to keep fans never knowing what to expect."
"Criminal" is Ell's highest-charting single to date and is featured on her album The Project, out now. The full-length was executive produced by Sugarland's Kristian Bush, who Ell says gave her an unconventional assignment in preparation for recording the album.
"He was like, 'Lindsay, what's your favorite album of all time?' I was like, 'Well, Kristian, that would be Continuum by John Mayer, I listen to it all the time,'" Ell recalls. "He was like, 'Perfect. I want you to go record the whole thing.' I was like, 'What?' He said, 'Yeah, only rules are you need to play all the instruments, you need to do it by yourself in your studio at the label and you have two weeks. Go.'"
Ell found herself working around the clock, from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily, to complete the album.
"I handed him this CD at the end of it and I was like, 'I'm blown away, Kristian. I've learned so much about the way John Mayer plays guitar, about the way I play guitar, and more importantly, how I love to hear a band recorded in the studio.' And he just laughed and he said, 'OK, well, now it's time for us to record your own music.'"
The result, Ell says, is a full-length that "felt like a science project of me really figuring out my identity and figuring out who I am. ... That is what led to us recording, finally, an album that I feel like represents me."
Ell expects to release her version of Continuum later this year.
See Ell's full interview below!
Lindsay Ell gets real about having a mentor in Carrie Underwood and explains why she re-recorded (and is releasing!) her take on John Mayer's "Continuum" album.