Lindsay Ell

Heart Theory (BBR 2020)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

There Is a saying in sports; “just because you have a good team on paper doesn’t mean you can win on the field.” That adage does not apply to Lindsay Ell. The Canadian’s sophomore effort is stacked with an all-star collection of songwriting talent.  With the help of Brandy Clark, Corey Crowder, Kane Brown and Tyler Hubbard, a seemingly counterintuitive feel-good concept album emerged. “Heart Theory” chronicles the seven stages of grief personally experienced by Ell. The material is fueled by a breakup, sexual abuse, a health scare, and her 30th birthday. Ironically, despite the heavy handedness of the album’s inspiration, the tone is lighthearted, poppy, and at times downright danceable. “Hits Me” kicks off the shock phase and sets the tone sonically with a bouncy jazz melody. How Good” follows up the eclectic stylings with a Stevie Wonder like “Superstition”” funky groove with powerful vocals

While there is no hint of traditional instrumentation, the guitar solos do stand out. Producer Dan Huff is also one of the better session players around, but the deft solos are all Ell’s work.


The revenge anthem, “Want Me Back” leads off the album’s anger phase. In keeping with the tone of the album, It is devoid of true anger and more in the fun vein of Kellie Pickler’s “Red High Heels”

“I Don’t Love You” is a three-minute showcase of Ell’s upper range

The closer “Ready to Love” predictably and fittingly represents the acceptance phase.

It may seem paradoxical to be able to mix dark themes into fun, even sugary pop, but her goal was to make an upbeat effort that would inspire people. Whether the listener is inspired is a personal experience, but most will agree that the 12-song collection is certainly an easy listen.