Recently, Hannah Ellis has found that one of her lyrics has evolved into a bit of an empowering affirmation, not only for her but her fans. “I put the boujie in the backroads” she declares on her recent single ‘Wine Country’.
It’s a suitable turn of phrase for the Campbellsville, Kentucky-born artist, whose songwriting treads a tightrope between embracing her down home roots and a smooth, country-pop sheen.
Much like her contemporaries Hailey Whitters and Haley Mae Campbell, she does this with warmth and openness, no doubt a personal trait that she imbues into her music to welcome us into her world.
“Even though I’m a bougie little wine girl these days, I was born in Kentucky, and you can’t change that”, Ellis explains with a cheeky grin as her guitarist and husband Nick Wayne cranks up the swampy, honky-tonk riff that introduces her performance.
A song about enjoying the finer things in life while not forgetting where you come from, it’s an assured and defiant write, one that Ellis’ voice thrives on, even in a more stripped back setting.
“So I was walking into a write one day with some friends of mine and right before that, my little sister called me” Ellis continues, introducing her second song, ‘Someone Else’s Heartbreak’.
“Her boyfriend of her two years had broken up with her. As her big sister, I really wanted to write a song that was like ‘you’re better off, this guy doesn’t even deserve you’. But, then I remembered when I was on the receiving end of heartbreak, and truth and logic were not exactly what I wanted in that moment, so that’s why I wrote this song”.
‘Someone Else’s Heartbreak’ is a deeply empathetic ballad that embodies the very raw and confusing feelings you have in your chest in the knotty, vulnerable moments right after a break-up. For such a sensitive and emotionally intense song, it’s undeniably catchy; making for an even more approachable and comforting performance.
Ellis’ final song, ‘Country Can’, reminds us all of the positive power of the genre that gave us two chords and a truth, at a time when divisiveness and discord brews at its very heart. “I’m sitting here, at a pub in London; that’s just proof to the point of this song".
"Country music brings us together like nothing else can. I usually tell this story and say that it’s ‘red dirt to west coast sand’, but we’re all the way across the pond singing country music, and I don’t think this song needs more of an explanation than that".
It's a gratifying song, one that pays tribute to the genre that’s given her and so many of us so much, while bringing us all together in the true spirit of music and compassion. It helps that it’s a big ol’ singalong – Ellis and Wayne harmonising at the top of their voices for the elate chorus.
Hannah Ellis is a fireball, an artist full of charisma, heart and a pair of lungs to match. If we need someone with a bit of class to bring us back to ground and help us find ourselves again, you won’t find many better songwriters than her.
Performing her songs ‘Wine Country’, ‘Someone Else’s Heartbreak’ and ‘Country Can’, this is Hannah Ellis for the Holler Live Sessions.
Director: Dan Monro
Cameras: Dan Monro, Tom Francome, Nick Richards and Joe Monk
Audio Engineer: Nathaniel Kastoryano
Editor: Dan Monro (Lookout Productions)
Producers: Ross Jones, Gemma Donahoe & Ciara Bains