Lindsey Sweat started in the music business as a songwriter, signing her first publishing deal at the age of 21. After a while, she started feeling like she had an abundance of songs that were hers to sing. She launched her artist career under the moniker Trella in 2016.
Lindsey’s artist project Trella evolves, comes into sharper focus, and ushers in the new era she was right on the cusp of in 2018 and ‘19 with her latest release Waiting Games. A 6-track EP that feels cohesive but nuanced with a common thread of longing, releasing, and unshackling.
“Caution to the Wind,” Waiting Games’ opening track, is a bit 80’s reminiscent production wise, making it a perfect fit for 2020’s alt. pop landscape. A beachy, fever dream that places you in a Florida “island bar” right there with her. And I think any Nashvillian can relate to this sentiment: “Caution to the Wind” feels like the sonic encapsulation of East Nashville’s Pearl Diver.
“Takin’ It Back” and “Sidelines” were both released as singles in 2019, and much like Hunter Harris (Vulture staff writer) has certain movie lines that play on incessant repeat in her head, “Sidelines” had the same effect on me. Can’t sleep? You kept me on the sidelines…out of your heart but on your timeline… Trying to focus on work? You kept me on the sidelines…out of your bones but on your skin at night… Not only is the R&B-influenced groove of the chorus insanely infectious, but I couldn’t get over the brilliancy of these parallel lines. One of my favorite lyrical mechanisms to employ in my writing is anaphora. The challenge of finding another perfect phrase to follow a repeated line that’s simultaneously a callback and a new idea is addictive, and Lindsey’s penned a perfect chorus in “Sidelines.”
While it’s my favorite of the two, “Takin’ It Back,” which she performed at Live On The Green last year (put on by the Nashville local favorite Lightning 100) really seemed to usher in this new era of Trella—more carefree, more conversational, but no less thematically resonant than previous releases like “Retreat” and “Creature Comforts.”
“Fumes” begins with a peek into the writer’s room—it overlays in its intro the infamous let’s-not-lose-this-incomplete-but-promising-vocal-idea voice memo. Melodically it feels like the grittier route Taylor Swift has either flirted with or raced down in certain tracks on reputation and Lover, but Trella’s voice really lends itself more comfortably to this grit, making “Fumes” an intriguing standout.
“Waiting Games” was her first single release of the year, and it brings the kind of vibrant, hopeful energy a lot of us went into 2020 with—an energy that feels laughable in retrospect.
“I guess some things in life don’t ever change / you might be the type of guy that stays the same.”
*Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by [a Trella lyric]*
This line works so well, because it puts the onus on the other person, releasing the listener of personal shame. Trella encourages us to “see ourselves out” of someone else’s story.
Trella carries on her tradition of closing out her projects with a ballad with the sparse, impassioned “Rebuilding.” Although the most somber in tone of Waiting Games, it still contains that light, that hope, that freedom that’s a common thread through each song.
I remember Lindsey playing me a mix of “Waiting Games” and I told her it feels like moving forward.
In a year where moving forward seems impossible, where everything feels like a perpetuating, all-consuming waiting game, Trella’s EP can take us back to the place we started from.