2015 CD FEATURE
FADED GLORYVILLE (Last Gang-Cooking Vinyl.)
INDIE LINDI ORTEGA IGNITES FADED GLORYVILLE
“There ain't no stars in Faded Gloryville/ we've chased our dreams into the ground/ if disillusion has some hope to kill/ here nobody wears a crown.” - Faded Gloryville - Lindi Ortega.
Canadian chanteuse Lindi Ortega credits Jeff Bridges Oscar winning performance in the 2009 Crazy Heart movie as one of her inspirations for her sixth album title track.
But the latter day Nashville singer, blessed with Irish and Mexican ancestry, doesn't rule out the resurrection that Bridges character Bad Blake sought.
Ortega settles for optimism as she delivers her distinctive vibrato with a torchy twang.
"I don't want this to be a huge downer, because it's not intended to be," Toronto raised Ortega, now 35 revealed.
"I just feel like in the world of music or following dreams, there are all these memes out there like, 'Follow your passion and everything will be great!' And I don't think it's as black-and-white as that."
Fort Worth born Stephen Bruton, who died of cancer at 60 in May, 2009, coached Bridges on guitar for his Crazy Heart role - reportedly a composite of Texans Billy Joe Shaver, Kris Kristofferson and the late Waylon Jennings.
Ortega says the idea came to her after empathizing with Bridges' talented but wasted Bad Blake character "legitimately asking myself if I would be in my 50s, playing bowling alleys and trying to scam together 10 dollars."
She empathised with peers who shared her path - chasing musical dreams with a fast vanishing finishing post.
"In my mind I had this idea of a town that we all visit and ended up calling it Faded Gloryville ," she added.
"It's at that point where you've set out with these dreams, and at first they're really idealistic and romanticized, and then you have moments where you're smacked with the hard reality of it, and it comes down on you like a ton of bricks. I think Faded Gloryville is where you make the decision of whether you're going to be buried under those bricks, or if you're going to build something from them."
Ortega used four producers Dave Cobb, Colin Linden, Ben Tanner of Alabama Shakes and John Paul White of The Civil Wars to forge her CD in Muscle Shoals and Nashville .
ASHES BY NOW
“You came to set my heart on fire/ then you just left it to burn/ these cold dark ashes, these cold dark ashes/ I yearn, I yearn, I yearn.” - Ashes - Lindi Ortega-James Robertson.
"I was very heartbroken and disappointed in myself that I fell for the illusion of it all, but I kept wanting to believe in these pictures in my mind of the beautiful things that happened over those three days. While I was writing the song, I kept envisioning the pictures of those memories just burning away and turning into ashes. That's what I was left with."
It was a sibling song of sorts of Tell It Like It Is.
“It was a song that I wrote about an experience I had where I was being a little strung along, with a cat-and-mouse game romance-wise," she explained.
"I was getting tired of it, and I had been there a few times, and thought it was ridiculous. I don't understand how people can be that way. I would much rather just be straight up. It saves yourself a lot of time and heartache. It was basically a plea to tell people that play those games to stop doing that.”
SOMEDAY SOON IN MUSCLE SCHOALS
“I've been waiting all my days/ for someone to carry me away/ from this lonesome lonely road/ I've been on for so long.” - Someday Soon - Lindi Ortega-John Paul White.
The music on Faded Gloryville is steeped in soul but Ortega said it happened organically.
“It wasn't a concept album, by any means,” Ortega says of the disc featuring three songs produced by Tanner and White in Muscle Shoals.
Ortega punctuates her originals Someday Soon and When You Ain't Home with a revamp of 1967 Bee Gees hit To Love Somebody.
“I'm a big fan of that tune but I heard the Nina Simone version first," Ortega explained.
"I didn't even know it was written by the Bee Gees when I heard Nina do it, but I have since learned where the Bee Gees were coming from with it. I really got a sense that it was an unrequited love thing, and at the time I was going through something similar. It had been going on for a very long time, and the person I was singing the song about would often be at my shows, and he wouldn't know that I was feeling that way and singing it to him."
Ortega recorded To Love Somebody with Tanner and White in Muscle Shoals - also Someday Soon co-written with White and featuring his vocals.
"We were hanging out at a coffee shop and they were playing a lot of soul music there, and I turned to JP and said, 'Man, this stuff is so cool. I kind of want to write something with this vibe,'" Ortega recalled
"It was just the idea that you're in a situation that you know isn't healthy for you and you want to leave, and the intent is to make it better for yourself and get out of it, but whether you're going to do it or not remains to be seen. I've had a bit of a tumultuous love life."
Ortega's Muscle Shoals recording with White and Tanner was a thrill.
“I had never recorded there before. I had done some co-writing with John Paul White before, and I realized that he had a studio down there. I told my managers about it, and they called him and asked if he was recording people," Ortega revealed.
"Muscle Shoals has this incredible history with the music, and it's so ingrained in the culture. It really comes through in all the musicians. I feel that it's in their heart and in their blood. They hired a bunch of musicians that they really seemed to have a good relationship and rapport with. We did some wonderful recordings while we were there.”
RUN DOWN NEIGHBORHOOD
“Well, you can have some of my weed/ if I can smoke your cigarette/ I might be running low but I ain't out just yet/ I will be Tweedledee, if you be Tweedledum/ you can drink all my whiskey, baby/ and I will drink all of your rum.” - Run-Down Neighbourhood - Lindi Ortega-Bruce Wallace.
Ortega finishes her disc with countrified clout.
Run-Down Neighbourhood is a reflection of life on the edge in the dark side of her adoptive hometown Nashville.
“ I've lived there for about three and a half years, four years in December. I've played a few gigs there.
“I didn't really go to Nashville to make it. I went really more because I was interested in the history. I'd been reading a lot of biographies and there were a lot of Hank Williams and Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline and Nashville is mentioned as the Mecca for that style of old classic country that I love. I thought, I'd been living in Toronto for a while and at the time I was living there, whatever you want to call it – alt-country I guess wasn't really a big thing. So I kind of felt like I was spinning my wheels and I needed a change of scenery and I ended up moving over to Nashville . But it really wasn't a thing where I was trying to get in on a scene or be accepted or anything. I did get some opportunities from living there. My publishing company has an office there so they were able to help set me up with an appearance on Nashville , the TV show.
“So I was on an episode there and they played a few of my songs. But as far as Nashville and its sort of accepting or not accepting me, I don't know. I guess I never really tried. I happen to make music that seems to go over well in some parts there. But if you talk about the machine of Nashville , which is largely what the industry is based on, that sort of new country music, I'm not at all into that world.”
Ortega uses I Ain't The Girl as a metaphor or sorts - she reveals she prefer a tattooed truck driving outlaw not an urban social climber searching for a sweet spouse.
The feisty femme fatale warns a suitor - “if you can't light my fire/then you will never do.”
But in Run Amuck she warns her truck driving honky tonk tearaway he is flirting with the devil - “uppers and downers, coffee and cocaine/ egg in frying pan, this is your brain.”
But Half Moon becomes a fitting finale as she compares her beau's mystique to her own - “sometimes when I see half of your face and the rest of you is veiled in midnight lace/ it reminds me of myself and I see that you and I are half-moons hanging in the sky.”
Ortega has delivered an eclectic country soul rockabilly hybrid destined to extend her longevity that should bring her back here for another tour.
“ I do some songs that have a bit of an old school, classic country feel but I have a lot of blues influence and a lot of soul and rockabilly, so I think it's much more than just country. But a lot of people need a laneway to put it in so they stick it in to that. Unless it's the mainstream, which will refuse to call me country and then I have to be called Americana , even though I'm Canadian .”
Ortega rides in a posse that also features Texans Kacey Musgraves and Sunny Sweeney and Tennessean Ashley Monroe.
“You certainly go through rough periods, but this album is more about what happens after that," she says of her 15 year recording journey.
"Whether you decide to let things continue to disillusion you, or if you pick up the pieces and figure out where you'll go from there. I just kept going, I guess."
The journey may have seemed littered with hurdles but Ortega has arrived.
“The album has been finished since December or January, so I feel like I've been carrying a baby around for nine months - so now it gets to be born," she explains.