Jamie McDell on Linda Ronstadt: Why I Love

We were bowled over by Jamie McDell’s latest album. The self titled effort (Review here) is a wonderful collection of songs where Jamie’s crisp vocals and novel country sound are a refreshing addition to the country music scene. She stays just the right side of  country rail tracks to please the traditional  followers of country but she adds her own style to offer something different.

We are honoured to welcome Jamie to the pages of At The Barrier to write in our Why I Love column. Jamie has written of her love for the legendary Linda Ronstadt.

Linda Ronstadt
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In 2017 I became obsessed with 70s fashion. I’d never considered myself particularly good with styling, as a young artist my ‘brand’ was based around a barefoot, t-shirt wearing girl with a guitar (because that was very much who I was.. And still am). As I accessed some more creative freedom and independence with creating my third-album, I leaned into a new musical persona and spent much time watching live videos of flare and hoop earring infused 70s performances.

It was here I came across Linda Ronstadt and that voice. A tone I’d never heard before, strong without losing any of it’s intimacy, commanding and fearless without compromising any of the emotion needed to perform the lyric. I loved her and her style, and then even more so when I delved deeper into her involvement in the country music genre. She bought a coolness to it that I had to aspire to. Sitting there in stripes, big hair, big hoops next to Johnny Cash on The Johnny Cash Show on ABC TV in 1969 singing ‘I Never Will Marry’ was a vibe I’ll never stop striving to create.

Jamie McDell.
Photo: Jake Smith

And then I found the Trio record and it felt like home, a room of female strength, vulnerability and magic that I wanted to lock the door and live in forever. I’d grown up listening to only male vocalists, it just so happened that Jimmy Buffett and John Denver were the only cassette tapes we had aboard our boat. I loved those records, their stories and what they taught me about writing country songs. It meant a lot to me to find female perspectives and tones that I could sing along with and become inspired by.

A highlight of my career and this latest album was having Dan Dugmore in studio in Nashville in 2019. I knew he’d worked as a member of Linda’s band for many years and it was such an honour to have him lend his talents to these songs I had written. He even brought in a Dobro I believe he had used on some of her recordings/performances. His pedal steel is such a significant part of this record and I’m so grateful for the experience and small connection to my album and the incredible voice that Linda Ronstadt has contributed to the world.

Our thanks goes to Jamie McDell for taking the time to write for us. You can read our review of Jamie McDell’s latest album here, and you can listen to Not Ready Yet from her self titled album below.

Jamie McDell: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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