One of the openers for KNCI’s Country in the Park 2020 is Adam Hambrick, a young singer-songwriter from Arkansas who charted last year for the first time with “Rockin’ All Night Long”. But before that, Adam had already made it up the charts twice with songs he’d written for others: “Somebody Else Will” for Justin Moore and Dan + Shay’s “How Not To”, and it looks like he’s poised to do it again with Linsday Ell’s new single “I Don’t Love You”, which she talked–and sang–to me about on the January episode of my Write You a Song podcast.
“Adam (*who co-wrote the song with Melissa Fuller and Neil Medley) has such a cool vibe in his phrasing” she says enthusiastically, while beginning to plunk the strings of her guitar. “Like the phrasing in his first verse is so awkward…and I love it.” She continues lightly strumming her guitar and explains “It sounds like a conversation and at the same time it’s something so different than what you would normally write.” And with that, she starts singing
“I don’t open up a bottle/with my dinner ‘cuz I know it’s just gonna sit/up on the counter and go bad/just like the leftovers you’d have said/to leave at the restaurant I don’t go to any more/’cause I won’t go alone/so I pick up, and takeout, and sit alone.”
She stops, her increasing excitement palatable. “Ok, so that phrasing is really really awkward” she says, now sounding like a fired-up music teacher. “But then the chorus is so simple…! If I were to write this chorus, I would’ve put so many more words in it!” She pauses. “Ok, listen to this chorus. It is so simple: “I don’t love you, baby/I don’t love you, no/I don’t love you anymore/But I still miss you, miss you sometimes”. She stops and then quickly points out “See? It’s so simple, it, like, repeats the same line 3 times.”
So is it important for a song to have a sort balance between what’s going on in the verses and what’s in the chorus? She says yes. “I definitely think there’s magic in finding ways for songs to balance themselves out. Whether that’s lyric, whether that’s phrasing…and” she adds, referring back to Hambrick’s chorus “It‘s a good reminder as a songwriter that less is more, sometimes.”
“I Don’t Love You” is one of the very few songs Ell has recorded that she didn’t also have a hand in writing (another being her recent #1 with Brantley Gilbert, “What Happens In a Small Town”). But, she says, she absolutely could’ve written the song, right down to a reference to Stevie Wonder records. To hear her talk about that (and hear a clip of the song) click below. And to hear her whole interview, in which she talks about everything from finding practice time in Target parking lots to why it’s important for even songwriters to not close themselves off to the work of others…click here and give this month’s entire podcast a listen. She-and Adam, probably-would appreciate it!