Album Review: Lindi Ortega — Tin Star
“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.
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- Ken Morton, Jr.: Barry, thanks for the great sentimental look at Winchester. I will admit that he is an artist that was largely …
- Arlene: Thanks for this article, Barry. It's not often that an artist brings another performer to tears during a guitar pull. …
- Leeann: At any rate, I'll still look forward to his next album, because I'm a fan of his music.
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- mrsandy: My understanding is Emmylou's concert was cancelled was because her 92-y.o. mother passed away.
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