Canadian-born and Nashville-based country singer-songwriter Lindi Ortega played to an almost sold-out crowd at the NAC Fourth Stage.
The evening began with Toronto artist Sam Cash. The roots-rocker, whose style resembles that of Elvis Costello and Joel Plaskett and two artists he admires, played songs from his debut album, 2011’s Teenage Hunger and his most recent album, 2013’s Stand Together, Fall Together. For those who are used to seeing Cash with his band The Romantic Dogs, this solo performance offered a refreshing take on older songs and a special vulnerability in their interpretation. For those who, like me, were discovering a new artist, he certainly drew us in with he down-to-earth vibe and warm voice. But there’s no doubt the best is yet to come for this young artist – he finished his set with a new, yet to be released, song called Lighthouse about “the battles within ourselves.”
It’s a hideout when the light’s on
It’s a lighthouse through the big storm
And in the end when all the hurt is done
It reminds us that we’re not alone
Lindi Ortega then took to the stage donning her famous red boots and black birdcage veil. Joined by her incredible band – James Robertson on the telecaster, Ryan Gavel on bass and Noah Hungate on drums – she played songs from her new album Faded Gloryville as well as fan favourites like The Day You Die, Cigarettes and Truckstop and Tin Star. From country ballads a la Johnny Cash to honky-tonks foot-stompers, Ortega knows how to draw her audience in with her voice and lyrics. That voice – which has that familial country tone as that of Dolly Parton, except way more soulful in my opinion – combined with lyrics that capture one’s assent to stardom and all the pitfalls along the way, is what sets Ortega apart from other mainstream country artists. Add to this authenticity and honesty and you can see why it’s easy to connect to her and her songs.
“I started to think about where I came from, these pitt falls in which I fell into. I called it Faded Gloryville. The idea is that you don’t have to stay in Faded Gloryville. I like to say that you have to pass through Faded Gloryville to get to paradise.”
My coup de coeur of the evening was without a doubt the title track of Ortega’s newest album, Faded Gloryville. After hearing it live, I can see how the country-soul tune merits an album named after it.
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