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.
- Janice Brooks: Hopes somebody gets those memos about drinking songs. Meanwhile I'm feeling a lot of slots with Bluegrass.
- Leeann: Great news about Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White's duet album! Absolutely appalling about the Keith Urban concert!! Both the rape and …
- bob: I found the Billboard article about country music radio needing an alcohol intervention interesting. Songwriter Adam Wright is quoted as …
- Matt: Definitely agree with C.M. about Maddie & Tae. Certainly not the tidal wave of change some claimed it is or …
- Dave D.: Good stuff, as always. My copy of Producing Country arrived yesterday, and it looks to be as good as …
- Scooter: I agree Holly Williams can do no wrong in my eyes. Such a good album and great to see live …
- Carrie Mclaughlin: Your my Hero Mr. Jim Lauderdale!!! Come to Alaska Please? hehehehe
- Jeremy Dylan: You should check it out Dave D. It's from the first (and strongest) season.
- Leeann: Wow! I love that Holly William's cover of "No Surrender"! She's gotten to be so good.
- luckyoldsun: I made it through a minute of that "Girl In a Country Song Video." Man, that sucks.