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Lindi Ortega

Tin Star – 2013 (Last Gang)

Reviewed by Dustin Blumhagen

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CDs by Lindi Ortega

Lindi Ortega continues her whirlwind release schedule with "Tin Star." Fans of her trademark sound will find a lot to like this time around. While continuing to dabble in a variety of genres, Ortega still manages to maintain enough consistency to tie it neatly together with her last two full lengths, creating an unofficial trilogy of songs about music, love and death.

Her sound exists at the edges of the country scene, if only because it has such a strong classic country influence. Gypsy Child is an upbeat sing-along with a strong backbeat reminiscent of the Tennessee Two. She slows things down on the title track, a melancholy song complemented by piano and string flourishes. The song references the challenges of being a struggling musician paying their dues in Music City. The pace quickens with the foot stomper Voodoo Mama, a song influenced by Ortega's love affair with New Orleans. "Tin Star" is paced almost like a roller coaster, with soaring ballads balancing out tracks bristling with punk rock energy.

The most interesting track is the rockabilly shuffle of I Want You, which showcases her strong vocals and shows that she can stand proudly alongside the giants of the scene like Wanda Jackson. It is a rousing plea to a lover, the kind of love song made for guys with slicked up pompadours and fast cars. The sex appeal oozing from the speakers is almost palpable. She touches on jazz on This is Not Surreal and Something For You, two pretty ballads stacked on the second half of the disc. She takes a poke against the conservative Nashville scene on All These Cats, letting the naysayers know she is "here to stay" through a catchy course. The album closes with the pretty Songs About, a pretty lullaby about being an artist, singing songs whether there is an audience or not. It is a strong statement and serves to further alienate her from the mainstream music scene, where chasing hit songs and paydays seem to outweigh the pursuit for artistic excellence.

Ortega has provided plenty of proof over the past three years that her music is worth a listen. Her beautiful voice has a haunting quality with plenty of charisma. She struggled in the first part of career, but it seems that she has finally hit her stride with a quick trilogy of great albums (and one of the best Christmas albums in recent years). Ortega is not afraid to speak her mind and backs it up with her music. She is pushing boundaries and ruffling feathers, and listeners are the lucky recipients of her artistic endeavors.