Move over Shania Twain, there’s a new Canadian country star illuminating the horizon.
But this sweet singing sensation isn’t a “new country” pseudo-pop princess. Lindi Ortega’s roots are firmly planted in traditional, outlaw country — but her hard-hitting lyrics set to seductively sugary melodies make for a contemporary take on a classic sound, giving her extraordinary crossover appeal.
Ortega’s debut album Little Red Boots (with Last Gang Records) was met with critical acclaim, two Juno nominations and the honour of a spot on the long list for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize.
Her new album Cigarettes and Truckstops (also on Last Gang) is being released Oct. 2 (You can listen to her new single “The Day You Die” here: soundcloud.com/lastgangentertainment/lindi-ortega-the-day-you-die).
Raised in Toronto by her Irish mother and Mexican father, Ortega recently relocated to Nashville to follow in the footsteps of her heroes.
“A lot of my musical heroes were either born in Nashville or came through here at some point and I thought it would be a great place to do a sort of historical survey of my heroes and absorb all that history. I read a lot of biographies and so it’s cool to read about where Hank Williams went and retrace his steps and actually go to those places and not just read about them, but be there,” says Ortega.
“I also like the feel of Nashville. It’s a city with a small-town feel. I like the pace of the city and I find it inspiring. There are a lot of musical people here.”
On top of a new location, Ortega also got a new producer, Colin Linden (Blackie and the Rodeo Kings) for the new album.
“Colin’s a bit of a household name in Canada. I’d heard of him and when names were being thrown into the hat as far as producers to work with, I looked him up on YouTube and there was this awesome clip of him playing dobro and I just loved the sound of it. Something really struck a chord with me and I just wanted that sound all over my next record.”
When Ortega discovered Linden’s experience playing the blues, she wanted to work with him even more.
“I was reading the Hank Williams biography and I learned that he had been influenced by a man named Teetot who was a blues player and started to see the connection between early blues and early country and then I started to get heavily involved in listening to the blues. I wanted to inject a sprinkle of blues into what I was doing and I learned that Colin was really a blues guy and has the background and knowledge, which we applied to my music. It’s subtle, but it’s there if you listen.”
A trip to New Orleans to film a music video for “Black Fly” also infused her music with the sounds of the deep south, she says.
Ortega and her trademark little red boots are coming to Victoria in support of another female Canadian country legend, k.d. lang, Sun., Sept. 9 at the Royal Theatre.
“I’m so excited,” says Ortega. “She is a voice. One of the true, pure voices out there that are so inspiring to someone like me. It will be amazing to watch her up there … It’s rare, too. I haven’t toured Canada with anyone who’s had any country connection at all.”
After the tour with k.d. lang, Ortega will tour the U.S. with Social Distortion.
For more information, visit lindiortega.ca M