Review by: Victoria Nugent
Little Red Boots – Lindi Ortega
Often touted as Toronto’s best kept secret, this Canadian country music singer has been thriving in the local indie music scene since the early 2000s. Ortega’s alternative country style is a little bit classic country and a little bit rockabilly with influences ranging from Dolly Parton to Johnny Cash to Emmylou Harris. However, she also has a foot firmly planted in the indie scene with credentials including singing backing vocals with Brandon Flowers and supported indie group Noah and the Whale.
However, if Ortega’s new material gets enough airplay, it may just be enough to secure her a place of her own in the heart of country music fans. Marrying sweet vocals with twangy guitar riffs, cheerful rockabilly tunes and clever lyrics, Little Red Boots stops short of being cliché to sit firmly in the middle of brilliance. The music is strong on lap steel , harmonica and slow acoustic guitar but the instrumentals come second to Ortega’s vocals, which shine through in every song.
The album and eponymous single are named after her signature red boots that she got while on tour with Kevin Costner. This personal connection sets the tone for the album, which seems to really give a glance into Ortega’s own world.
Ortega’s third album kicks off with ‘Little Lie’, an enticing tune with a kicking beat underscoring lyrics about lying to a lover.
Upbeat rockabilly track ‘Bluebird’ quickly showed its capability for getting stuck in my head, with its infectious chorus and truckloads of bounce. It reminded me somewhat of Kasey Chambers’ more recent tracks, but without the nasal tones.
Ortega also shows a knack for melancholy anthems, shifting the tempo down in songs such as ‘When All The Stars Align’ and ‘So Sad’.
In ‘Angels’ Ortega shows off slightly warbling but strong vocals against plucky bluegrass with plaintive lyrics.
‘I’m No Elvis Presley’ is an incredibly fun song as Ortega belts out tongue in cheek lyrics- “I’m no one, not legendary, I’m nothing extraordinary” to a soundtrack of rapid lap steel. Ironically the song has an underlying beat and riffs which reminded me somewhat of Elvis’s style, but with a country edge. I’m talking ‘All Shook Up’ and ‘Blue Suede Shoes’.
Little Red Boots is Ortega’s personal anthem but it is perhaps too close to her own heart to really capture anyone else’s. To me, this song seemed to embody the worst side of country music with the lyrics lacking meaning and the music lacking vibrancy with slightly too much jolt. That said, I feel like it would probably suit its purpose in a live context… imagine Ortega strolling onto stage in her red boots and busting out with that song straight up. However, it kind of falls flat on the album.
‘Jimmy Dean’ is relentlessly catchy with a haunting edge as Ortega sings of “the ghost of Jimmy Dean”.
The album rounds out with ‘So Sad’, an incredibly melancholy number with soaring vocals.
Little Red Boots is an album to set toes tapping, with a great mix of upbeat and slower songs. I love the amount of pop culture references on the album, from Elvis to James Dean to songs that seem to hark back to other great country songs. Forlorn lyrics about lost love are matched with upbeat tempos to temper out some of the sadness, while positive numbers are positively jumping with energy. After this gets some airplay, the singer dubbed “Indie Lindi” mightn’t be much of a secret anymore.
1. Little Lie
2. When All the Stars Align
3. Blue Bird
5. I’m No Elvis Presley
6. Little Red Boots
7. Dying of Another Broken Heart
8. All My Friends
9. Fall Down Or Fly
10. Jimmy Dean
11. Black Fly
12. So Sad
Lindi Ortega Official Site
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