Lindi Ortega at Hoxton Square BarCultureMusicLive music
Lindi Ortega is not your average country star. A self-proclaimed “Spaghetti-Western Tim Burton character” blessed with a morbid sense of humour and an eye for the creatively dark, this Torontonian enigma has one of the best female vocals in music – and you’ve probably never heard of her.
The initial East London show was rescheduled due to illness, so it was perhaps unsurprising that this audience was somewhat depleted. A throng of leering middle aged men hung on every whisky-infused word from the curly haired songstress. A beautiful mix of Mexican and Irish, Ortega took full advantage of her show falling on St Patrick’s Day, taking periodical sips of Guinness, and covering an old Irish song (with lyrical help from the braver audience members). Without her backing band, and with a strained voice and venue at less than capacity, Ortega was competing with the elements.
She aptly began her set with Demons Won’t Get Me Down, an uplifting mantra on overcoming life’s obstacles – a theme that runs through her two album repertoire. Ortega is striking onstage, a rock and roll Frida Kahlo with trademark ruby red lips, off the shoulder poncho and signature red boots. She claims the latter are inspired by Wonder Woman: “I was always an introvert in school, so being onstage in these boots makes me feel like I have superpowers!”
Angels (a song about loneliness from debut album, Little Red Boots) flaunts the singer’s knack for intricate guitar picking. Learning to play the instrument at 14, it’s clear she has honed her craft and plays it with a passionate respect and ease. Ortega exhibits the same story-telling skills as the musical greats she so deeply loves. This is especially notable in the title track from her latest release Cigarettes and Truckstops, a slow song of a tour bus love affair gone awry; she builds landscapes and moods with nothing but her ornate guitar and power house voice. After obliging various audience requests she closed the show with a cover of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues, showcasing her unique vocal vibrato and seductive tone.
Lindi Ortega is no wallflower. She’s an intelligent raconteur with opinions and views, and that’s no little lie.
Photo: Claire Lorenzo
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Watch the video for Cigarettes and Truckstops here: