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Lindi Ortega

Faded Gloryville – 2015 (Last Gang)

Reviewed by Dustin Blumhagen

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CDs by Lindi Ortega

Lindi Ortega surprised everyone with a sonic change of direction on her 2011 album, "Little Red Boots," the introduction to a wonderful trilogy of loss and love told through her haunting voice and throwback country music. After culminating the unofficial trilogy in 2013, she took a little time to refocus before releasing her latest.

Despite releasing three extremely strong offerings in a short period, Ortega has remained a relatively underground artist. While Kacey Musgraves and Ashley Monroe garner critical acclaim, she has never quite managed to break through to their level. The sting of this is palpable on the title track, which is a plodding melancholy track that could have easily been recorded by former tour mate, Brandon Flowers. The music here is less rooted in country tradition than her past Last Gang releases, as Ortega shows why she shouldn't be ignored.

Her recognizable voice is a delight, and she harnesses it for full effect whether it is the sweet retro wisp of "Tell it Like it Is" or full on garage Americana, a la Cary Ann Hearst on "Run-Down Neighborhood."

While Ortega has shown interest in experimentation in the past, never has she so successfully done it as on "Faded Gloryville." Her cover of "To Love Somebody" pays appropriate tribute to the soul music that formed its inspiration, arguably more than the Bee Gees original. With "I Ain't the Girl," Ortega adds a folk pop melody to her repertoire, while "When You Ain't Home" has a bluesy stomp with some wonderful additions from a horn section.

Ortega has crafted another wonderful album that features interesting music, which elevates her entrancing voice. Her rebellious attitude still permeates through the lyrics, but her ability to intertwine moments of vulnerability help to make the experience relatable for listeners. Ortega improves with each release, continually releasing high quality music that both touches on American music tradition and boldly pushes forward.