Keepers of country’s tragi-comic flame will clasp Lindi firmly to their bosoms.
Si Hawkins 2011
It’s a brave woman who burdens her breakthrough album with a track called I’m No Elvis Presley. Such a move conjures up that period in the mid-1990s when a past-their-best Depeche Mode released singles called It’s No Good and Useless. The reviews wrote themselves.
Not that Lindi Ortega is useless, but this is a curious release from Last Gang, the Canadian label who previously introduced us to uncompromising electro-rock outfits like Death from Above 1979 and Crystal Castles. Ortega, from Toronto, is as trad-country as they come, a rootin’, tootin’ chorus-slinger in the Dolly mould (musically at least).
Like prime Parton, the 12 songs here remain unfailingly upbeat while Lindi warbles about often woefully downbeat subjects, usually involving her love-life. There’s even a touch of the trademark vocal Dolly-wobble on Black Fly, which is all about a woman who just can’t give up her no-good liar of a fellah. "It won’t do me no good but I cannot resist / Bad can be good, lick the lies from your lips," she trills, happily. They do insist on standing by their men, these country gals.
On Angels, Ortega resolves to "drink myself right back to sleep" and, having awoken to find that the inadvisably boozy bedtime routine has driven away her loved ones, concludes that "I will be lonely ‘til the day I die," the preamble to a jaunty chorus about shuffling off this mortal coil and standing side by side with, yes, angels. Then there’s Dying of Another Broken Heart, in which she insists that love is actually a disease, there’s "no amount of morphine that will ever ease my pain," and "even if there were a cure, I could not be saved." The tone? Still fairly cheery.
Ortega was a backing singer for Brandon Flowers last year and is invariably described as alt-country – apparently back home in Toronto she goes by the nickname ‘indie Lindi’ – but despite the tormented lyrics, there’s little edge here, and a different market clearly beckons. "I know I’m not legendary, I’m nothing extraordinary," she concedes, on the aforementioned Presley number. Perhaps not, but keepers of country’s tragi-comic flame will clasp Lindi firmly to their bosoms.