Lindsay Ell has lived in Nashville for over ten years. But the current ACM New Female Artist of the Year nominee could probably only tell you the name of one of her neighbors.
“I couldn’t tell you most of their names if my life depended on it,” she laughs during a recent interview with American Songwriter, slightly embarrassed by the candid fact. “I’m just usually never home. I mean, I don’t even know what to do with myself right now.”
Indeed, it’s a common problem for a countless number of country music’s most talented road warriors who, due to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus, now found themselves sheltering in a place that few have actually spent much time at – their homes. Just last month, the triple threat that is Lindsay Ell was to have been touring Germany and the Netherlands, performing as part of the C2C Festival in Berlin and Amsterdam.
But those plans now find themselves in her rear view mirror.
So Ell, much like so many of her counterparts, is now trying her best to bask in the solitude of an empty condo in Nashville, with just her guitar to keep her company.
“I’m quarantined by myself, alone,” says Ell, who on average plays 200 shows a year. “I’m not used to stopping. I’m used to being so busy. This is the first time in a long time that I have this kind of break. To be honest, if I don’t schedule time to write and exercise and watch Tiger King, I go crazy.”
And yes, the Calgary native always seems to find her on the edge of slightly crazy these days.
“I’ve been feeling a lot of feelings about past relationships, which I guess can happen when you are single in a house by yourself and you are watching your friends with their wives and husbands and kids,” says Ell, who released the music video for her current single “I Don’t Love You” just days before the coronavirus began its grip on the United States. “I mean, its definitely a time when I have been forced to look inward. I guess, it’s the beautiful part of all of this.”
Of course, Ell has always had a way in looking at the bright side of things. And thanks to the coronavirus shutdown, she has found herself with plenty of time.
And she is spending much of that time songwriting.
Each and every Wednesday at 8PM CST, Ell heads to Instagram Live with fellow songwriters Matt Stell and Jameson Rodgers for their new weekly live stream “Penned Up” in order to share with their fans a song that they have individually been working on during the week before.
“It has been interesting to see the whole music industry pivot,” says Ell, who is used to spending her days and nights on the road touring with the likes of country powerhouses such as Luke Bryan, Little Big Town and Keith Urban. “Its nice to see us coming together in ways that we haven’t been, or couldn’t before.”
And for Ell, who is also nominated for an ACM for Music Event of the Year for her smash chart-topping duet with Brantley Gilbert “What Happens in A Small Town,” is now challenging herself to keep writing in amongst the chaos.
And yes, it’s keeping her sane right about now.
“I feel like if I don’t encourage myself to be productive and keep my creative vibe going…” she says, not letting her soul finish the sentence properly. “It’s a slippery slope. I mean, my goodness, you turn on the news and it’s just such a scary place if you let your mind rest there.”
She takes a deep breath, and over the phone, it’s almost as if she allows a couple tears to fall.
And then, she presses on.
“There is no schedule and no rules,” she concludes. “We are not thinking about radio or guidelines that we are usually infatuated with. We are all sitting on our couch, writing songs with our guitars. And for now, I guess that feels good.”