Canadian Country singer, Lindi Ortega, is back with a thunderous twang in the form of her new album Tin Star, her third in the last three years.
Having moved from Toronto to the 'shining stars' of Nashville, Tennessee to record Cigarettes and Truckstops in 2012, there is no doubt that Tin Star owes much of its influence to Music City, U.S.A. The title track is a tribute to the aspiring musician, many of whom she would have heard play to almost empty rooms despite their immense talent. Ortega sings: "Well we don't got fame, no name in lights, no billboard hits and no sold out nights". But Tin Star is also a tribute to music itself. Ortega sings that she might just walk away "but the music keeps on running through the blood in my veins and it just makes me stay". Voodoo Mama also touches on this theme, expressing Ortega's love of New Orleans and wanting to go back to "music on the streets".
The album as a whole contains an entertaining combination of heartfelt country ballads of love and pain along with foot-stomping rockabilly songs which really get you up off your feet. Tin Star really takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions. The opening track Hard as This sounds like it's been taken from the opening credits to an old Western movie - The next thing you probably expect to hear is the voice of John Wayne booming out through your speakers. Instead we hear the expressiveness of Ortega and this is no disappointment as she entices us into the album.
Gypsy Child tells us of Ortega's move from Toronto to Nashville and a major feature of her sound is its sheer attitude, especially when she powerfully launches into the chorus, proudly professing: "I'm a Gypsy child, that's what my Mama told me." One of the stand out songs from Tin Star has to be Lived and Died Alone with its eyebrow-raising theme. Ortega sings: "When the sun has set, I will go dig up the dead, lift their bodies from their graves and I'll lay them in my bed". Looking beneath its clearly gory nature, Lived and Died Alone simply expresses the natural human fear of not being loved - something we can all relate to! Ortega sings this with such pain in her voice, it has the potential to move the listener to tears. This is Not Surreal can be found on the same haunting level as Lived and Died Alone and perhaps carries with it the best lyric of the entire album: "One must always suffer for the sake of their art."
In between these two, deeper songs lies the emphatic I Want You which shows off Ortega's feisty side, singing "I want you" as a command rather than a request. She's certainly letting us know who's in charge!
It is very rare to feel that no track is worth skipping on any album but this is certainly the case with Ortega's Tin Star and with the state of modern country music, Ortega's contribution is a breath of fresh air. The only disappointment is the inability of the Country Music establishment to welcome her with open arms!
Rating - 8/10