Published Aug 05, 2015Nashville-based, Toronto-bred singer-songwriter Lindi Ortega is hardly a typical country artist. Her music draws from a deeper well than many of her contemporaries, pulling in elements of southern soul, western swing, jazz and blues to mingle with her outlaw country leanings. Decidedly not of her time — new album Faded Gloryville feels more in tune with the sonic trends of the mid-1970s than the mid 2010s — Ortega revels in her outsider persona, and her growing fan base loves her for it.
An outspoken critic of the sameness of today's country music, Ortega is quick in interviews to condemn what she sees as the "generic" stuff that dominates the radio. Listening to Faded Gloryville, a record haunted by the comedown after a high, one gets the sense that Ortega has taken a hard look at her place in the music industry… and sighed.
From the desperate, mood-setting opening track straight through to the end of the briskly paced, 37-minute record, Ortega comes at this disappointment again and again, and from several vantages. In this titular town (the title track is a song about the Sunset Boulevard-esque denouement period for aging stars), her affairs end in "cold dark ashes," she's forced to admonish reluctant lovers to "tell it like it is" or else, "there's a certain kind of light that's never shone on" her and, anyway, she "ain't the girl you're looking for." It's a lonesome, frustrating place, but this dreamy record mines the darkness for flashes of light.
At its best (the haunting "Ashes," the provocative "I Ain't The Girl," the killer cover of "To Love Somebody" and the title track), Faded Gloryville is a tour de force. Too bad the two weakest songs ("Run A Muck" and "Rundown Neighborhood") appear back-to-back, temporarily breaking the spell at the midway point. (The Grand Tour Records)