Elle King has “it.” That was evident when the singer-songwriter showcased her fiery debut album, “Love Stuff,” last spring.
At the annual Austin music conference South By Southwest in 2015, Courtney Barnett, Best Coast and Kali Uchis were the most buzzed about female recording artists. But King trumped each of those performers, playing a number of shows over a four-day stint.
“Alcohol and Red Bull kept me going,” King says. “When you play South By Southwest you have to go for it. You have so many shows to play. You meet a lot of people. You’re going all the time. You want to go out there and make an impression.”
King, 26, couldn’t help but make an impression with the single “Exes and Ohs,” which hit No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. There’s nothing quite like the tune on the hit parade.
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The soulful King, who possesses a sexy, raspy voice, doesn’t sound like anybody else on the circuit. That’s part of what makes her so refreshing. She doesn’t chase trends, and there’s nothing calculated about her bluesy tunes, which sound fresh even though her tunes are retro.
“I just write what I feel like writing,” King said. “I don’t pay attention to what’s in. I don’t care about that stuff. I’ll leave that to other people. It’s all about what moves me.”
Some of King’s most effective songs are lovelorn numbers.
“I’ve broken some hearts and I’ve had my heart broken just like everybody else,” King says. “I think what I sing about is relatable. Who doesn’t go through this stuff with love? A lot of the songs come from situations I’ve had with people. I’ve had some interesting experiences.”
King, who performs a sold out show Thursday at the Lincoln Theatre, is a charismatic character who injects some life into the rock world. Even though she’s young, King engages the audience and seems to genuinely enjoy entertaining.
“I think it’s about having fun up there,” King says. “If you have fun when you perform, it comes across to the people out there. I honestly have the most fun when I’m up there with my band. There’s nothing else like it. It blows away everything else. I love revealing myself to those who come out and see me. I like to talk in-between songs. If you’re going to be spending money on one of my shows, I think it’s a good thing if people leave feeling like they know me.”
During a recent XM session, King did just that by delivering one anecdote after another between songs. She joked with her band and the audience.
“Going to a concert should be a good time for everyone,” King says. “It’s about fun and doing what you have to do to make the best kind of music you can.”
Sincerity is another part of the equation for King, and that counts in the studio and onstage. “I’m not a phony,” King says. “This is not an act. I wouldn’t know how to act a certain way. All I can be is me.”
King is the progeny of former model London King and actor Rob Schneider, who divorced shortly after King was born in 1989. “It was my stepfather who probably had the hugest impact on me in terms of music,” King says. “He was a musician and he taught me so much. He was the one who showed me how to play my first song on guitar. My mom was always very supportive as well. Whatever I wanted she ended up doing for me. I took lessons and stayed with music.”
It’s all worked out for King, whose smart, bawdy dynamic shapes her as an artist. If King thinks a banjo will add to a song, she’ll pull hers out and add a bluegrass touch.
“You do what have to do,” King said. “We worked so hard on this album. It was a three-year process. It wasn’t easy, but nothing worth anything in life ever is. I’m very proud of it.”