Album Review: Lindi Ortega — Tin Star

Juli Thanki | October 28th, 2013

lindiortegatinstar“There will be angels; there will be devils / I will be in between,” sings Lindi Ortega on “I Want You.” That lyric can easily be applied to the Canadian singer-songwriter’s soprano, which can veer from a Dolly Parton lilt to a fierce rockabilly shout in the space of a breath, a skill that’s enabled the genre-blending songstress to share stages with a spectrum of artists ranging from Dierks Bentley to Social Distortion.

Produced by Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Secret Sisters) and largely recorded live in the studio, Tin Star (Ortega’s third full-length album) crackles with the energy of a concert – one listen to feisty rockabilly number “All These Cats” and it’s easy to conjure up an image of Ortega, clad in her black dress and red boots –the latter a sartorial nod to Wonder Woman – stomping on the stage of some hole-in-the-wall club.

The record kicks off with its best track, the deliciously twangy album opener “Hard as This,” where Ortega delivers a magnificent kiss-off to a dillydallying suitor: “If you need time, here’s a clock / You can sit alone at night and listen to it tick and tock.” “Hard as This” segues into “Gypsy Child,” a rollicking, autobiographical tale about the journey that has taken her from Toronto to Nashville, and “Voodoo Mama” could easily be a lost Rosie Flores song.

While it’s easy to get caught up in Ortega’s badass rockers, her slower and more introspective songs are just as captivating. “Lived and Died Alone,” in which Ortega, contemplating the loneliness of those who’ve never known love, sings “When the sun has set, I will go dig up the dead / Lift their bodies from their graves and I’ll lay them in my bed / To fill their hollow hearts with all of my broken parts and all the love that they were never shown.” It’s dark, yes, but almost sweet thanks to Ortega’s sincerity about showing kindness to those who didn’t experience it while living. “This is Not Surreal,” a reverb-soaked salute to Frida Kahlo, is similarly haunting, as Ortega’s ethereal vocals float over strings and Cobb’s guitar, while the album’s sparse title track, “Tin Star,” pays tribute her new home and its under the radar musicians who are “beat up and rusty” compared to the city’s more famous inhabitants, who left the world of dive bars and tip jars long ago.

Lindi Ortega may be one of those comparatively unknown artists, even despite her Nashville appearance, but she keeps getting better with each record. This tin star is clearly on the rise.

4 Stars

Preview or purchase Tin Star

  1. Dave D.
    October 28, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Nice review. Cigarettes and Truckstops was one of my favorite CDs of 2012, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Tin Star ends up near the top of my 2013 list.

    Re star on the rise: she’s progressed from playing the atrium of an office building in Detroit earlier this year to headlining a club show this week. Let’s hope the ascent continues.

  2. Doug C.
    October 28, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Lindi is a great new artist.

    The title track “Tin Star” is a perfect traditional country song with a brilliant bridge section.

    Her “Murder of Crows” from her last album is also great.

  3. Ken Morton, Jr.
    October 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    This is a second very strong album from Lindi. If you want more Lindi, she’s singing with Dean Brody on the great current Canadian top ten hit, “Bounty”: http://youtu.be/zqv4F98JjaQ.

  4. Rick
    October 28, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    I like a lot of things about Lindi except for her singing voice, which at times reminds me of fingernails on an old slate chalkboard. If only she sounded exactly like Deborah Allen on “Rock Me (In The Cradle of Love)” at all times, then I’d be on board the Lindi train big time! (lol)

  5. Dave
    November 14, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Check out my interview with Lindi at http://www.inthecountryinterviews.com

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