Lindi Ortega: Tin Star (Last Gang Records)
Canadian alt-country star Lindi Ortega’s new release is an album of the year contender says Joe Whyte.
There aren’t many Nashville based country artists that can claim that they’ve toured as support to Cali-punks Social Distortion but Toronto native Lindi Ortega can.
This is no ordinary spangles and sequins contemporary country artist however. Ortega is an all guts and glory artist in the vein of classic traditional singers such as Loretta Lynn or Maybelle Carter but with the 21st Century’s alt-rock and Americana twisted through the sepia toned landscapes of Tin Star.
The subject material herein is familiar. Heartbreak, bad decisions, booze and sadness colour the lyrics but Ortega has a real glint in her eye and the sense of gleeful fun throughout is utterly compelling.
Opening song Hard As This made me immediately think of what a more authentic, less obvious Imelda May might be like; tremelo laden guitar and rockabilly rhythms sit neatly with Ortega’s sultry sweet voice. There is a real sense of joy throughout and this is one country lady who certainly ain’t no shrinking violet. Country music in the traditional sense tends to somewhat lacking in the sex department; Ortega brings a real lust and grit to her music and there’s a palpable thrust of sweaty desire coursing through the album.
Gypsy Child has elements of Janis Joplin’s throaty roar and Ortega has crafted a song that has just the right amount of country hayseed woven amongst the ballsy rocking and I was reminded at times of Maria McKee’s masterful You Gotta Sin To Get Saved which utilised The Jayhawks as backing musicians. Tin Star is a wonderfully paced album which sets the rockin’ good times perfectly amongst the more laid back material such as the title track.
Tin Star is Lindi Ortega‘s third album but the first written and produced in her adopted home of Nashville. Never a place to be particularly open to innovative artists (just ask Jason And The Scorchers!) Ortega has a difficult task; she’s pretty much managed, however. Tin Star has a little of the classic Nashville sound as well as much of the subject matter; whiskey soaked nights and broken dreams sit comfortably next to love lost and found. With tongue firmly in cheek and red boot planted on monitor, Ortega and band kick up a storm of good time americana via the classics of country music.
There’s little if any slack in Tin Star and it’s without doubt one of the best things, if not the best thing, I’ve heard this year. Ortega has taken a genre that is very much niche in the UK and given it a shake up that it richly deserves.
Lindi Ortega will be touring the UK in January/February 2014.
All words by Joe Whyte. More writing by Joe on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.