Star rating – 8/10
There’s nothing quite like a great intimate live gig, no matter how good an artist sounds on record (...disc/download for younger readers). And Canadian country songstress Lindi Ortega proved that again at a great small gig at the recently refurbished Castle Hotel (great venue by the way – check it out) in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.
Lindi is no stranger to touring, having been backing singer with the Killers’ Brandon Flowers, and support to Kevin Costner’s band. These days she is standing on her own with guitar in hand and heart firmly pinned on her sleeve. She seemed beautiful, small, and even vulnerable as she politely asked the audience to excuse her as she made her way through them to the Castle stage, but so confident and engaging the minute she stepped up to sing. And she has a damn fine voice which is surprising in its power and depth.
Her self penned new CD ‘Little Red Boots’ has some great country songs on it, many of which run along the death and heartache themes. But although they are really good on disc, they don’t really prepare you for the heartfelt and entertaining performance Ortega gives. My personal favourites include ‘Dying of Another Broken Heart’, and ‘When All the Stars Align’, as she uses personal romantic setbacks to her advantage in the shape of great songs. Now that’s a recipe for country success if ever there was one.
Throw in tales of substance abuse and addiction, and her self-confessed demons are charmingly and wittily recounted. She does a good line in Johnny Cash covers with ‘Fulsome Prison Blues’ and ‘Delia’s Gone’ and a not quite so successful Aretha Franklin cover in ‘I Never Loved a Man’. Her song about chasing across the States on a greyhound bus after a missing lover ‘Cigarettes and Truckstops’ was absolutely spell binding.
But her sassy attitude is summed up by the fabulous ‘I’m No Elvis Presley’ about some slick music industry executives who were so busy on their Black Berries that that weren’t even listening to her. “I’m no Elvis Presley so who the hell are you?” – what a lyric. Lindi Ortega may not be the next EP – but she is witty, smart and she sure as hell can sing.