Lindi Ortega is one of those names currently thrown around in the popular media to feed their this week's news about "new country" (or "alt.country", whatever that is supposed to mean - anything but embarrassing elevator pop of Garth Brooks?) Sturgill Simpson's "Hit Top Mountain" may very well be The Album right now, and Hank Williams III is definitely in a league of his own - if you do not already have "Straight to Hell", "Damn Right Rebel Proud" and "Rebel Within", well, get them! - but that doesn't mean that's all we are getting at the moment. Mary Gauthier has been doing her wonderful thing for a while now, and Lindi Ortega may not quite reach her depth and heart yet, but that does not mean that there is anything lacking from this record, which may well Ortega's best so far. What we have here is a truly soulful and passionate singer, and a record that doesn't suffer from those little gaps that seem to lurk somewhere between, say, Emily Herring and her band / backing musicians. It's all here: rockabilly ("Hey! / I'm here to stay!"), melancholy ballads, love lost and found again, and Lee Clayton-like ambition to "honest, straight-forward communication / to reach out and really touch my fellow man" (a verse not from Ortega, but from Clayton, mind you). And it's all country. Because that's the way it is, darling.
A lovely haunting voice and some beautiful songs. A real Country Queen and I think she will be making it very big very soon. Cannot say I understand all the innuendo in Lived and Died Alone, it does seem a bit odd, but it has a lovely tune. Don't really care for Surreal. The rest of the album is great and I am very glad to own it.
Lindi Ortega is a Canadian singer with a passionate yet vulnerable voice pitched somewhere between Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. "Tin Star" is her fifth studio album with all songs written or co - written by her. It's a powerful album delivering songs of passion, drama, emotion and conviction.
Ortega's is the voice of authentic country music struggling against an ever rising tide of mediocrity. The title track is a piano led acoustic song of subtle beauty in which she declares with an aching vibrato,
"Oh you don't know me, I'm a nobody No name in lights, no sold out nights...."
It is a song lamenting the Nashville vision that lukewarm country pop is the only way to market country music. The album opens with "Hard As This" with some guitar work strangely reminiscent of The Shadows, circa 1962, as she tells an ex lover that she is somewhere "giving up on him" with a reading that conveys both desire and dismissal.
Ortega is a writer who can have an unsettling way with lyrics, masked by sweet melodies and a honey coated voice. In "Lived And Died Alone" she sings of lifting bodies from the grave and laying them in her bed so that she can lie with those who died alone. It is a stark but beautiful song with just a simple acoustic guitar.
"This Is Not Surreal" is a haunting and complex evocation of love and emotion and a song of great depth and maturity. But there is some driving country rock on "I Want You" and some rockabilly on "All These Cats" while "Voodoo Mama" showcases her impressive vocal skills.
The album closes with "Songs About", a powerful reminder of what it is to be Lindi Ortega singing songs, straight from the soul, about loving and laughing and crying, songs about falling and flying and living and dying, songs about failing and songs about trying with heartfelt passion and an aching heart. This is a gorgeous album and proof that she deserves so much more than being an old tin star, lost in the shining skies of Nashville.