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Behind the scenes of Ellie Goulding's empowering third album

The British pop star teams up with Max Martin and Laleh for her as-yet-untitled collection

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Ellie Goulding has had a steady rise over the past few years, from her breakout single “Lights” to her shimmering Fifty Shades of Grey smash, “Love Me Like You Do.” So when the 28-year-old began work on her third LP, she had plans to make an even bigger-sounding album, writing songs with hitmaker Max Martin (*NSYNC, Britney Spears) and his protégée, Swedish singer-songwriter Laleh. “I’ve never worked with him before, but we really connected,” Goulding says of Martin. “And I wrote this song with Laleh that’s probably the most empowering song I’ve done as a woman. When I listen to it, I feel invincible.” You’ll hear that come through in Goulding’s voice: “Laleh was like, ‘I don’t want you to be the ethereal, female voice. I want people to see your strength.'”

Lyrically, though, Goulding isn’t moving away from matters of the heart. “I swore I wouldn’t write more love and heartbreak songs,” she says. “I thought, ‘Do one, get it out of your system.’ So the first song is, like, ‘Hold me! Don’t let me go! Stay with me!’ But it wasn’t out of my system. I’m obsessed with writing love songs, I always have been. I think that’s why I started writing songs in the first place.”

While Goulding is still putting the final touches on the album, which is expected to drop sometime in November, she’s psyched to bring new material to the stage. “I’ve probably done a thousand shows since my first album, and I realized that with that one I never thought, ‘I wonder how this will sound live?'” she says. “Now I can’t help but think of the live aspect, and I understand the translation of music from a studio to a performance.”

Get exclusive details about fall’s buzziest albums in Entertainment Weekly Issue #1379, on stands Aug. 27.

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