Feature

Lindi Ortega’s Little Red Boots

Photo by Emma Corby

If you long for the tingle of an alt-country sound, just trim all the fat off of your accompaniment. Get a slinky spiderweb Telecaster, add a comatose upright bass and scatter loose snare shots around the dark edges. Now fill in the spaces between the notes with a compound of reverb and strangled, hoarse whispers. Compose a haunted ballad about morphine and suicide.

Soon you’re well on your way to that deranged Durango of genres that lies along the lost bloodshot highway, where matadors and sombrero’d skeletons await the next round of tequila stingers. And this summer, if you’re lucky that way, your bartender’s name is going to be… Lindi Ortega.

Working the troubadour trade out of Toronto for fourteen years, riding a rich vibrato that spills out from behind a curtain of dark and sleepy hair, Lindi is finally up and floating. The newly minted disk, Little Red Boots, on Last Gang Records is the occasion of her rising arrival.

As press at Cadence, Snob’s Music and The Roots Music Report come on board with high praises, her CD release at the Dakota on Monday June 6 promises to fill that little basement and threaten the foundations of the building with the pressure of aficionados and aficionadas clutched in the heartfelt ache of her sound.

Ladies, mind your men closely. They might be pretending not to be falling in love. “They’re gonna be passed out after the show,” Lindi laughed during a recent stop at CKLN, “We’re gonna be wheelin’ them away.”

Ms. Ortega comes by her fun-loving temperament honestly. Her Mexican/Irish lineage seeps into the unique texture of her songwriting, too:

“I did grow up listening to a lot of Gypsy Kings and a lot of rhythmic guitar-type music with what my Dad was listening to. He was in a Latino band. A lot of people say that they hear Celtic melodies in the stuff that I do; it’s definitely, a subconscious thing. I don’t know if it’s inherited, though. Sometimes I like to think that I come from, y’know, outer space.”

After a year of touring with Brandon Flowers of The Killers, and following Kevin Costner’s roadshow around the prairies as an opener, not to mention a link-up on record with Major Lazer and Colli Buddz, Lindi’s panoramic influences will definitely be coalescing in her stage performances as she fronts a full band this summer.

The record provides a wide variety of takeaway delights. Within the slapback sound of a deep canyon her voice cries a plaintive reproach to unfound love, male ego, and fate. Her lyrics, however, summon tints of irony, hope and and self-reliance that trump the hard luck cards that her persona is dealt from song to song.

Lindi rallies most strongly against chilly anonymity, with ammunition from Ron Lopata’s heroic organ solo, on “Fall Down or Fly”, and again, in “I’m No Elvis Presley” where she taunts a critic with her honesty: “I don’t write these songs for you / I write these songs to help me through.”

She takes on the persona of James Dean to champion the significance of personal integrity regardless of the harsh brevity of life. The effect of the vulnerable teenage timbre of her voice calling on the stars and the angels to help her overcome her twilight loneliness is what budges our hearts slowly but surely toward drinking from her wellsprings of comfort: song, strong spirit and the bottles and longings that lead her on to the next sunrise.

“”If I were a blue bird I’d sing all day / I’d sit on the shoulders of people in pain / I’d sing a tune for the lonely and sad / Just to remind them that life ain’t so bad.” ~ Blue Bird

Lindi Ortega appears at Toronto’s Dakota Tavern at Ossington and Dundas Monday June 6th.

Paul Corby is the host of Corby’s Orbit, CKLN.FM 88.1 Toronto ONLINE

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2 comments

  1. avatar
    frankcasting 30 May, 2011 at 18:24

    I am a huge Lindi fan, ever since she scrambled into our early morning radio studio in 2006 via all kinds of Go Trains, buses, etc. just to promo a benefit for a Durham County animal shelter, then proceeded to melt our hearts with her live songs. Go Lindi !!

  2. avatar
    Richard Flohil 30 May, 2011 at 20:02

    I fell in love with this woman when she played Ariana Gillis’ Bob Dylan tribute at Hugh’s Room the other week, even though she didn’t prepare for the gig the way she should have done. There’s something about her voice, her diminutive frame, her wee red boots, and the songs on the EP she gave me….I’ll be at the Dakota fer shure…

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