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Ellie Goulding tries to break through in America

Ellie GouldingRock and Roll (genre)Coachella Valley Music and Arts FestivalSouth by SouthwestJoni MitchellAmy Winehouse

There are so many big-voiced female British singers, it's hard to keep track of them.

There's Adele, out with new album "21," and there's Duffy, of the ubiquitous "Mercy."

Then there's Florence Welch and Elly Jackson, of La Roux, not to mention the ones who started it all, Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse.

Joining their ranks this year is Ellie Goulding, a 24-year-old singer from Hereford, England, whose new album, "Lights," has already climbed to the top of the British music charts.

In stores in the United States for only a couple of weeks, the upbeat album hasn't quite caught on with the American public.

The singer is trying to change that with an American tour that includes stops at the festival South by Southwest as well as at Washington's Rock and Roll Hotel, where she performs Tuesday.

Goulding's "Lights" consists of 10 tracks of anthemic pop, especially the soaring title track "Lights." It suggests another British singer with a soft touch and a thing for electronic music, Natasha Bedingfield.

But there are also quieter tracks, like a cover of Elton John's "Your Song."

The dichomomy comes from a shared passion for both electronic music and dubstep as well as folk music, Goulding says.

"I grew up listening to big pop songs with big choruses," she says. But Joni Mitchell is one of her major influences, and the song that first won her a singing competition was Tracy Chapman's "Baby Can I Hold You."

The album she made is an unintentional fusion of all of that, she says.

"I quite like it when a simple song is turned into something huge," she says. "When they're elevated to an anthemic thing."

Goulding, who is making her first festival appearance at SXSW and later at Coachella, says her live shows are a more epic experience than her album because she plays with a full band.

And as for the comparisons? She says music listeners shouldn't lump her and all the Duffys and Adeles together just because they're all from the same region.

"There might be people who sing better than me, but they don't perhaps play the guitar as well as me," she says. "It's not a good thing to compare. We're all different."

Ellie Goulding performs a sold-out show Tuesday at the Rock and Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. N.E. Doors open at 7 p.m.

erik.maza@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Ellie GouldingRock and Roll (genre)Coachella Valley Music and Arts FestivalSouth by SouthwestJoni MitchellAmy Winehouse
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