Amid all the complexities of life around the world and the turbulent political climate, sometimes it’s refreshing to hear some unpretentious music that offers simple messages without sacrificing musical quality. The realm of country music is a dependable well for this kind of endeavor, and singer-songwriter Lindsay Ell offers a strong example with her recent EP Worth The Wait. The six-song outing from the Calgary native revolves primarily around longing for a lover, and with Ell’s skillful vocals and guitar work, along with solid production, the EP delivers an effective batch of songs that should have wide appeal.
The first song “Waiting on You” sets up a narrative that continues through multiple songs of Ell being helplessly in love with a distant someone. The track presents an upbeat perspective, with Ell ready to get things going with her seemingly reluctant partner. She writes, “ I’m not talkin’ about no diamond rings/ white picket fences, those forever things/ but you gotta make your move.” While the paradigm of the woman waiting for the man to make a move is fairly tired at this point in time, Ell’s singing skills, along with the quality musicianship of her band, make the song a strong opener for the EP.
Ell’s narrative continues with the following two songs “Criminal” and “Space” as she gets increasingly desperate for her love interest to make a move. At the crux of the former is the message in the chorus, “You got me burning like a matchstick/ take me to the edge and one step past it/ it ain’t right, it ain’t typical/ oh, what you do to me is criminal.” There’s a building intensity with her desires, even as the song’s music remains smooth. At one point she sings, “I’m wired like a ticking time bomb,” as she waits to unite with her lover.
In the mellower track “Space,” things take a downward turn in Ell’s attempt at her man’s heart. Here she finds herself struggling with how to react to someone who has stated a need for space in the relationship. With repeated cosmic references, the essence of the song’s message is boiled down in the last lines of the chorus: “You said that you needed/ I said that I’d wait/ but baby, I hate this space.” Ell is at possibly her most vocally expressive on “Space,” with the pain of the distance between the two people being palpable in every note she croons.
The latter end of Worth the Wait finds Ell accepting the demise of her relationship and finally reconciling with what might come next. She finds closure on “Standing Here” with the lines, “It’s over, it’s already over/ you don’t love me anymore/ you already know.” With “Worth the Wait,” however, she finds herself hoping things might work out after all. She writes, “You keep saying you ain’t ready so I keep holding on… and I keep fallin’ further in ‘cause I keep hopin’ maybe.” These two songs adequately encapsulate how complicated romance can be with mixed emotions and unending ups and downs.
In the final song “Stop This Train,” Ell is introspective, perhaps reflecting on the winding emotional road of the previous tracks. She shows vulnerability as she writes about the fear of navigating a complex world. In the chorus she writes, “Stop this train/ I wanna get off and go home/ I can’t take the speed it’s moving in/ I know I can’t.” It’s a realization that every young adult feels as they take on more responsibilities and accrue more emotional baggage with the passage of time. Acknowledging the fears is the first step toward moving past them and Ell bravely gives voice to the scared self instead of the future self that is presumably well adjusted.
There is not a weak musical moment on Worth the Wait and Ell’s narrative through-line and accessibility make it an engaging listen. Her vocal talents and guitar skills will surely give her a bright future as she continues to navigate this complicated world.
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