Song Review: Lindsay Ell, “Waitin’ On You”

This song reminds me of Aubrie Seller’s “Liar Liar.” That’s not a good thing.

Lindsay Ell is a Canadian artist (who, incidentally, is proficient with several different instruments) who has achieved some modest success up north (one Top 10, two Top 15s) but hasn’t crossed over much in the US (her peak on Billboard’s airplay chart is a pitiful #44). “Waitin’ On You” is the debut single from her recently-released EP Worth The Wait, but if this single is representative of the rest of this project, then the FTC needs to investigate Ell’s team for violating truth-in-advertising laws.

The production is where the Sellers similarity is most apparent, as it’s a raw, minimal mix that features a bluesy guitar on the melody and a sharp-sounding drum set anchoring the beat. (You can hear an organ in the background occasionally, but it only adds some atmospheric tones.) The vibe here is brighter and more playful than the dark “Liar Liar,” but what strikes me the most is how basic the production sounds on a technical level. For all Ell’s acclaim as a musician, her guitar solo on the bridge comes across as simple and underwhelming, and the drums never rise above methodical time-keeping. I stated in my “Liar Liar” review that Sellers’s song “brings to mind a group of teenagers in a garage who are trying to hide their inexperience,” and felt like “the musicians are still learning how to play their instruments properly,” and that’s exactly the same feeling I get from “Waitin’ On You.” All in all, the production here is not very impressive.

Ell doesn’t come across as a very strong vocalist here—her delivery is labored but tolerable in her upper range, but raspy and completely toneless in her lower range. (That opening “what’s not to like” line that Ell half talks, half sings is particularly cringeworthy, and makes a really bad first impression on the listener.) This issue is compounded by the the fact that this song is not suited to Ell’s voice at all, as it confines her to her lower ranges on both verses (listening to which is the aural equivalent of getting dragged across a gravel driveway). While her delivery does a nice job capturing the song’s playful vibe, it doesn’t quite rise to the level of sexiness she was aiming for, and she isn’t able to compel the listener to pay attention to anything other than how bad the verses sound.

Lyrically, the song describes how much the narrator enjoys their newfound love while also seeking some reassurance from their partner that they’re looking for this relationship to continue. It’s nothing too complex (or original, really), and the imagery here ranges from generic (“dry ground waiting for the rain to fall down”) to the bizarre (“I’m a July sky, you’re a bottle rocket”). The song is a bit on the short side (we only get half of a second verse, which I’m okay with given my griping above), and while it’s not intended to leave a huge impact on the listener, it should at least make them feel something, and it just doesn’t. It’s the kind of writing that wouldn’t hurt a well-produced, well-performed song, but doesn’t help a mess like this song.

Overall, “Waitin’ On You” is a disappointing song and an absolutely awful choice for a lead single. The song highlights Lindsay Ell’s shortcomings rather than her talents, and makes me doubt that she has much of a future in the country genre. Ell needs to find some better material fast, because country radio won’t wait on her for long.

Rating: 4/10. Skip it.