ROUTES & BRANCHES
a home for the americana diaspora
August 8, 2015
When I was a solipsistic little boy I used to think that other people would have meetings while I was sleeping. I wondered if they were brainstorming about the story of my life, how to interact with me and how to make me happy. My suspicion has been reinforced lately with the explosion of Jason Isbell into mainstream media. Overnight, perhaps my elves decided they'd feature Isbell and his new songs on CBS Sunday Morning, Entertainment Weekly, NPR. Maybe even CMT and GQ. I wake up and all of the sudden Huffington Post is arguing that "Caleb Caudle should be the next Jason Isbell". Don't make it too obvious, though, or he might suspect something ...
In the Great Pantheon of Songwriting, "True Love" falls a distant second to "Unrequited Love" as fodder for songs. A quick listen to "Love Hurts" or "End Of the World" will tell you that. Or Lindi Ortega's fourth CD, Faded Gloryville. I don't wanna daydream / I don't wanna wish for you / I don't wanna find out / That none of what you said was true ... As demonstrated on the album's opener, "Ashes", Ortega can do yearning. Her dedication to trad country runs deeper than her omnipresent veil, her leopard print coats or her trademark little red boots. It's not only unreturned attraction to another person that breaks hearts. Ortega's songs also address unrequited dreams, as on the record's crushing title cut. Atop a weepy pedal steel: I will not forget the good old days / When I was driven by my will / And I won't get back all the dues I paid / Here in Faded Gloryville.
It's hardly all about tears in your beer on Faded Gloryville. Nothing here replicates the punk spirit of some of her earlier tracks, though "Tell It Like It Is" and "I Ain't the Girl" remind us of Lindi Ortega's more playful and upbeat aspect. It's the early rock and rockabilly side of Ortega that has given her entre into the bikes 'n tattoos crowd, permitting her to tour as an opener for bands like Social Distortion. "Run Down Neighborhood" begins You can have some of my weed / If I can smoke your cigarette / I may be running low / But I ain't out just yet. See also: "Run Amuck".
This musical diversity serves Lindi Ortega well. It likely hails in part from the fact that the album's production duties are shared between a trio of distinct talents in Colin Linden, Dave Cobb and John Paul White with Ben Tanner from Alabama Shakes. If Ortega shows growth on Gloryville, it's on those Muscle Shoals sessions with White and Tanner on cuts like the deeply soulful "Someday Soon". Her take on the Bee Gee's "To Love Somebody" lays down an indelible groove, with window rattling bass and uplifting horns. Appropriately, Ortega has reported that she learned the song by listening to Nina Simone's typically tasteful take. While I was initially hooked by her edgier cuts, Ortega's classic voice is perfect for the soulful Muscle Shoals material.
Faded Gloryville's closer, "Half Moon" brings down the melancholy once again, with the record's strongest vocal performance. The song also serves to remind listeners of Lindi Ortega's immense gifts as a lyricist: Sometimes when I see half of your face / And the rest of you is veiled in midnight lace / It reminds me of myself, and I see that you and I / Are both half moons hanging in the sky.
Don't forget that KRFC will be broadcasting live from the Mountain Stage at Fort Collins' big ol' Bohemian Nights to-do next Saturday. I'm sure I'll find some way to fill my weekly R&B post, and I'll return triumphantly to the airwaves on August 22.
* Great Peacock, "Summer Song" Making Ghosts (This Is American Music, 15)
* Have Gun Will Travel, "True Believers" Science From An Easy Chair (TIAM, 15)
* Anderson East, "Devil In Me" Delilah (Elektra, 15)
* Dave & Phil Alvin, "Mister Kicks" Lost Time (Yep Roc, 15)
^ Lindi Ortega, "I Ain't the Girl" Faded Gloryville (Last Gang, 15)
* Porter, "Harder Stuff" This Red Mountain (Porter, 15)
* Rod Picott, "I Was Not Worth Your Love" Fortune (Welding Rod, 15)
* Turnpike Troubadours, "Mercury" Turnpike Troubadours (Bossier City, 15)
* Brent Best, "Robert Coles" Your Dog, Champ (Last Chance, 15)
* Deslondes, "Heavenly Home" Deslondes (New West, 15)
* Patty Griffin, "Rider Of Days" Servant Of Love (Thirty Tigers, 15)
* Lee Barber, "Coffee At Night" Missing Pages (Lee Barber, 15)
* Mike Flanigin, "Fit To Be Tied (w/Alejandro Escovedo)" the Drifter (Black Betty, 15) D
* Kevin Gordon, "All In the Mystery" Long Gone Time (Kevin Gordon, 15)
* Daniel Romano, "I'm Gonna Teach You" If I've Only One Time Askin' (New West, 15)
* Paul Burch, "Like Railroad Steel" Fool For Love (Bloodshot, 03)
* Ana Egge, "Flat Top Guitar" Bright Shadow (Parkinsong, 15) D
* Sam Baker, "Still Playin'" Case For Case: Tribute To Peter Case (Hungry For Music, 06)
* Barrence Whitfield & the Savages, "Full Moon In the Daylight Sky" Under the Savage Sky (Bloodshot, 15)
* Drunken Prayer, "Echo Of a Heavy Slamming Door" Devil and the Blues (Fluff & Gravy, 15) D
* Bobby Bare Jr, "Valentine (live)" Don't Follow Me (I'm Lost) (Bloodshot, 15)
* White Buffalo, "Modern Times" Love & the Death Of Damnation (White Buffalo, 15)
* GospelbeacH, "California Steamer" Pacific Surf Line (Alive Naturalsound, 15)
* Legendary Shack Shakers, "Mud" Southern Surreal (Alternative Tentacles, 15) D
* Alabama Shakes, "Shoegaze" Sound & Color (ATO, 15)
* James Leg, "Up Above My Head" Below the Belt (Alive Naturalsound, 15)
* Bloodhounds, "Bottle Cap Blues" Let Loose! (Alive Naturalsound, 14)
* Robert Earl Keen, "Think It Over One Time" Gringo Honeymoon (Sugar Hill, 94)
* Watkins Family Hour, "Feeling Good Again" Watkins Family Hour (Thirty Tigers, 15) D