The more you listen to heart theory the better it gets. At first listen you might think it’s a pretty decent, if middling, rock-pop record, with one or two better than average songs. Let Lindsay Ell‘s second album live with you a little, just two or three more listens, and it reveals something pretty amazing. If you’ve read any of the interviews Lindsay has been doing you’ll know that there’s a concept to the twelve tracks here, and they cover some pretty serious subjects. And that’s where giving it the time really reveals those stories and depth.
The Canadian’s previous album, 2018’s The Project, serves as a great precursor to heart theory in that a lot of the sound and style is similar across both, Lindsay certainly has the guitar-pop sound perfectly nailed and her way with melody and hooks is unashamedly mainstream and on the money. With songs like ‘body language of a breakup’ perfectly encapsulating the feelings of a relationship on the wane, ‘wAnt me back’ about the feigned regret of a breakup (“Typical you, always wanting what you can’t have / Soon as I moved on, started missing me so bad”) you’re drawn into the album the deeper you hear.
The heart of the album, and the most talked-about song, is ‘make you’, a personal and touching song that Lindsay’s used to open up the conversation about rape and sexual assault. It’s a topic, along with the theme of dissecting the seven stages of grief, that you don’t necessarily expect on an album with this level of commercial awareness and a potentially groundbreaking moment for mainstream Nashville.
Partnering with some of the best songwriters in Nashville right now (Brandy Clark, Nicole Galyon, Laura Veltz, Adam Hambrick, etc), Lindsay co-writes every song and her songwriting mark brings the album to a cohesive whole. heart theory builds on her impressive debut and her growth as a lyricist and as a person shines brightly.