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Saturday, 16 February 2013

Lindi Ortega : Cigarettes & Truckstops review

She has been described as the new Dolly Parton – but that’s to do Toronto troubadour Lindi Ortega a cotton-picking injustice.

You wouldn’t find rhinestone Dolly singing back-up for Killers frontman Brandon Flowers or opening for punk powerhouses Social Distortion.

And you certainly wouldn’t find la Parton rocking out with an unpredictable abandon that would give Nick Cave a run for his money.

Although she’s just moved to Nashville, Ortega is equally at home on the Coachella and T In The Park stages.

Bagging and tagging is not an option here, however strong the temptation. Just calling her country is a glib getout.

Ortega deserves better.

That said, title track opener Cigarettes & Truckstops does travel country roads, with a sweet soprano vocal that, indeed, invites comparison with Parton (and even name-checks the Tennessee icon and her hit Islands In The Stream en route).

Heaven Has No Place For Me is grown from country seed, too, but with bluesy backing boasting grumbling guitar.

Elsewhere, both Demons Don’t Get Me Down and Use Me are teasing and playful in equal measure; Don’t Wanna Hear It is bar-room rock and roll; Every Mile Of The Way a dream-like retro reverb ballad.

The Day You Die is a dark tune about a loveless marriage, although you might at first miss that amid the deceptive lively shuffle.

Despair and hopelessness also run through Lead Me On, a double entendre tale of unrequited love as sad and gritty as anything from the classic heartache handbook.

But it’s Murder Of Crows that will have the hair on your neck bristling.

A rootsy take on the murder ballad genre that would surely delight Robert Plant, it’s a chilling tale which – quite literally – hides a guilty secret buried in the tracks down by a field of cornrows.

Backed by bottleneck dobro, it’s an eerie slice of skewed Americana.

Lindi Ortega is on her way to the humble surrounds of the Hare & Hounds pub in Kings Heath, Birmingham on Wednesday February 27.

Better be there. She knows where the bodies are buried ...

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