Lindi Ortega – Liberty (independent)
One of the greatest new female country singers of the last 20 years was ready to give it all up. Lindi Ortega lost her record label, had an album shelved, and had anxiety and depression to deal with on top of that. Living in Nashville was wearing the Torontonian down: as one can imagine, for musicians there’s no downtime from your day job in that town. So she packed up and moved to Calgary, but not before making a record of her resilience with the help of some of the best players and co-writers that Nashville has to offer—including the band Steelism and harmonica player Charlie McCoy.
Ortega has always mined a decidedly old-school sound, one that sounded a bit like Patsy Cline fronting a rockabilly band. Here, however, the Mexican-Irish Canadian heads deep into minor-key Morricone territory, with several songs here sounding like Spaghetti Western soundtracks, complete with castanets and mariachi horns. Ortega has always had a knack for melodies that serve the range of her voice, and here she stretches them across languid, melancholy songs that let her linger as long as she likes on any given note.
Lyrically, she structured the record to start out as a downer and conclude with daylight. The last song is a cover of Chilean songwriter Violetta Para’s “Gracias a la Vida (Thank You to Life),” which despite its sentiment of uplift, is still set to a plaintive, minor-key folk song. Maybe because, as Ortega has always known, it’s the blues that makes you feel so good. (March 30)
Stream: “Til My Dying Day,” “The Comeback Kid,” “Liberty”