Lindi Ortega’s new “Tin Star” addresses the struggles musicians face in Nashville when they’re trying to make a living in such a competitive industry. The fact that “Tin Star” is her third consecutive great album in three years makes her theme all the more poignant.
The Nashville-based Toronto native, an imaginative songwriter and fierce singer, should be an alt-country superstar by now, her abundant charisma leading the way. But her trademark red boots still haven’t found their footing among the genre’s leaders.
The title track of her new release is a direct message to those with her in the trenches, as she sings on the bittersweet ballad, “I wrote this song for those who are like me, lost in the shining stars … of Nashville, Tennessee.” Ortega is frustrated on “Waitin’ on My Luck to Change” (“Always singing the same sad song, never feels like I’m moving along”), but resolute on the keyboard-based, funereal closer “Songs About,” where she promises to keep performing: “I’ll still be singing when no one’s around … ’cause that’s all I know.”
Yet fear not: The spitfire singer with the Dolly Parton tremolo isn’t eternally stuck in vulnerable gloom (though she also does it well on cuts like “Something for You” and “This Is Not Surreal”). Ortega’s got the gumption to match the riveting up-tempo fare from producer Dave Cobb – rowdy, rootsy and rockabilly. She embodies defiance on the raucous “All These Cats,” kicks past the feisty guitar of the New Orleans-loving “Voodoo Mama,” belts out “I want you to want me!” with rockish gusto on “I Want You,” and summarizes her spirit in the madness of “Gypsy Child”: “I skip along to my own beat, that’s just how I survive.”
Then there’s her endearingly wry weirdness on “Lived and Died Alone,” where she resolves to dig up corpses to find love – “I’ll lay them in my bed to fill their hollow hearts with all my broken parts and all the love that they were never shown.”
Let’s see Luke Bryan sing something like that.
Rating: 4 stars (out of five)
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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