Tuesday, July 19, 2016

CD Odyssey Disc 891: Lindi Ortega

I’m home late after a hard day of thinking and writing and I’ve decided to start my private time doing some…thinking and writing. Hey, I like what I like.

Disc 891 is….Little Red Boots
Artist: Lindi Ortega

Year of Release: 2011

What’s up with the Cover? God damn but Lindi Ortega is a sexy woman. Ordinarily I’d say something clever about the guitar case but this kind of pretty turns me slack-jawed and witless.

How I Came To Know It: I believe I read about Lindi Ortega in a music magazine in 2012 and bought her album, “Cigarettes and Truckstops.” When I found out she had released an album a year earlier I ran out and bought that as well, and here it is.

How It Stacks Up:  We have four Lindi Ortega albums and “Little Red Boots” is among the best, but it still falls just short, coming in at #2.

Ratings: 4 stars

Lindi Ortega is Canada’s best kept secret, and my only regret about “Little Red Boots” is I can’t find her earlier releases. Lindi, if you’re reading then send me the early stuff and I’ll review it without delay!

Ortega’s music is a combination of alt-country, blues and rockabilly and through the years she lets the proportion of these various styles slide around considerably. “Little Red Boots” is the most pure country of the four records I own, but there is still plenty of blues and rockabilly giving it her signature sound.

The album is upbeat and Ortega’s voice, which can be sad or sultry when she wants trends more toward sprightly and joyful here. You’d be wrong to mistake that joy for a lack of depth, however. Ortega is a thoughtful songwriter who mines the depths of her heart and knows how to turn that ore into gold.

The album’s opening track is “Little Lie,” a sassy number about a girl getting to the point after her clueless boyfriend hasn’t managed to pick up on her many hints that she’s just not that into him. The song has a lively jump, and the electric guitar work over the bridge adds the right amount of grease in support of Ortega’s pure vocals.

Every track on the record finds the right balance between tradition and edge, and Ortega is a natural storyteller as she paints emotional vignettes in four minutes or less, with each song as long as it needs to be and often leaving you wanting more.

Ortega’s lyrics can be provocative and a little grimy and the playful vocal curl around the edge of her delivery makes the whole package alluring. Listening to her I think of every girl I met in a bar that I should have left well enough alone, but just couldn’t resist. When you hear her whisper “you’re gonna know me by my little red boots” on the title track you’ll know why. The song had me wanting to write stupid fan mail messages to her. Of course, I didn’t.

The heartbreak on “Angels” and “Dying of Another Broken Heart” show that Ortega also knows what it’s like to lose love, and these songs aren’t afraid to show it all. “Angels” has her drinking herself back to sleep after waking up still sad. On “Dying…” lines like:

“I should hold a funeral for every love I lost
Bury pieces of my heart under the winter frost
And in the spring they’ll be covered in forget-me-nots
I’m dying of another broken heart”

…could easily come across as maudlin, but when you hear Ortega sing them, she’s so flush with emotion that you can’t help but fall under her spell.

Ortega isn’t above talking about hard living, and I wish more women country singers would do the same. “All My Friends” is filled with booze, marijuana and pill use. The song has a heavy guitar reverb and echo that evokes various states of inebriation. It is a harbinger to the sound she will explore more fully on her next record, “Cigarettes and Truckstops.”

Every Lindi Ortega album has to have an obligatory middle finger to anyone who doesn’t like what she’s doing, and on “Little Red Boots” that song is “I’m No Elvis Presley.” It’s a pretty solid rockabilly number that starts with the challenge:

“I did my best to impress
You were not impressed I guess
Oh well, what can you do?

I sing songs and play guitar
That don’t make me a superstar
Oh well, who the hell are you?”

The song is great, and a good question for any soulless record exec (or music blogger for that matter) who puts on airs but doesn’t have the balls to put on the little red boots and do it for themselves.

Sorry, I’m not as brave as you, Lindi, but I appreciate everything you do. That includes this excellent record that I have no doubt will continue to get oodles of play in our house for many years to come.

Best tracks:  Little Lie, When All The Stars Align, Angels, Little Red Boots, Dying of Another Broken Heart, All My Friends, Fall Down or Fly

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