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Level with me folks. What do you think the chances are for a two bit blogger and a dame like Lindi Ortega hooking up? Do you think she’ll be impressed by my unique pageview stats, or my ’98 Toyota pickup truck with whiskey dents and a faded Reinstate Hank sticker? Cause I’ve got it bad my friends. I’m gnawing on my palm like Squiggy. Or was that Leonard?
Not since Rachel Brooke have we seen such a wicked combination of beauty, style, singing, and song craft. Lindi Ortega has it all. I’ve seen a lot of chatter out there in the music world about Lindi lately, and folks wanting to slate her as alt-country or Americana. Well those people are going to have to fight me for her, because I’m planting a flag and claiming her for pure, true, honest-to-God country. Her talent is just too good to relegate to ill-defined sub-genres. Lindi Ortega is just what country music needs.
From Toronto, Ontario, Lindi Ortega evokes the ghost of Patsy Cline and the cool factor of Wanda Jackson. Like with Elizabeth Cook, you almost can’t believe that an artist whose beauty is so stark would find appeal in the lower rungs of the music world; that they would settle on being real instead of real famous. But don’t let the beauty fool you, Lindi is the real deal, with a natural desire to revitalize authentic country vibes and a natural vibrato to her voice that stokes the soul. “Indie Lindi” is what she was know by for 10 years or so in and around Toronto, putting out independent releases before making waves with her Drifter EP released on a subsidiary of Interscope Records in 2008, and now storming the world with Cigarettes & Truckstops.
Cigarettes & Truckstops is a succulent endeavor into the very fabric of country music, dusting off country’s roots, adding a little rockabilly, and re-emerging with them in a sexy and relevant candor, talking care free about drugs and danger, and not doing anything to be cool but being herself. Lindi Ortega doesn’t need to paint flames on her chest, she’s hot enough.
Good luck poking holes in what Lindi is throwing down here. The taste that Cigarettes and & Truckstops is constructed with is impenetrable. It all starts with Lindi’s songwriting, brought to life with her voice that seems so at home in the high register that commonly is a stretch for even the most-skilled of female singers. The production is laid back, giving Lindi’s voice and words tremendous space to breathe while the vocal track is buffered with a tasteful dollop of vintage reverb, allowing it to reach for the stratosphere and stick to your bones.
You barely even recognize the music your first few times through, even though the guitar is loud, sweaty, and superb throughout. This is good, because your attention is so trained on Lindi and the magic she is throwing down, you have to take a step back to recognize that the music is just as face melting and ripe for compliment. Even when the production turns more progressive, like on the ending of “High”, it’s always perfect to the mood and style. Mad props for Lindi and producer Colin Linden for making this album right.
But it all comes back to the songwriting for me. Lindi endows her songs with the wit and appealing sense of perspective that marks all great country music. And though I may joke about being possessive in calling her country, I certainly can see how folks from a very wide swath of the roots world could get into her music. From the underground to Americana, if you don’t like her music, you’re not listening to it right.
Oh, and another thing, this album towards the end turns deliciously dark. From burying bodies in “Murder of Crows”, to the drug-induced “High” and the pleadings of “Use Me”, this album gets raw without sacrificing its realness. As implied by the title, Cigarettes & Truckstops is a journey, and carries with it the real, believable stories rewarded to Lindi by real living.
I don’t know ladies and gentlemen, we might be looking at one of the best albums put out all year here.
Two guns up!
(and 5 points if you picked up on the Laverne & Shirley reference)
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