Full-fledged country music has historically been dominated by those native to the southern United States. In fact, only a handful of geographically ‘outsiders’ have successfully transitioned into the genre, the most prominent on the list being Shania Twain and Keith Urban. Canadian singer Lindi Ortega, with the release of her newest album, Faded Gloryville, shows that she may soon join that list.
After moving to Tennessee a number of years ago, the Toronto native has released a string of well-received studio albums that show her progression as a vocalist and songwriter. Faded Gloryville, maintains her well-crafted melodies, powerful songwriting skills, and signature vocals that initially established her as a prominent up-and-comer in country music. Opening track “Ashes” sets the scene for the rest of the album with themes of heartbreak, loneliness, and nods to the ever-fading glimmer of idealized small-town life. “You come to set my heart on fire / But then you just left it to burn,” she sighs, before hopefully begging her lover, “Please don’t leave me in the ashes of your memory.”
“Somebody Seen,”perhaps the most Dolly Parton-esque song in the album, deals with the sad realization that the person you love might not be ‘the one’ after all: “I’ve been spending all my nights on someone that just ain’t right.” Ortega then channels a more mature version of Taylor Swift vibe in “I Ain’t the Girl,” lyrically putting her lover in his place. Her most lyrically powerful track comes, however, from “Run-down Neighbourhood,” in which Ortega evokes a sense of wistfulness and living in the moment despite sad surroundings. “You can have some of my weed / If I can have your cigarette,” she humorously sings, before admitting, “Maybe we’re both a little messed up / but maybe that’s understood / So we’ll get messed up together in this run-down neighbourhood.”
Ortega’s striking vocals combined with her knack for storytelling is heavily reminiscent of the socially combative country music that arose with Parton in the mid 1970s, a possible byproduct of Ortega’s outsider status. Even when the love-focused songs in the middle of the album begin to drag, her voice soldiers on, floating above the country-infused instruments. Faded Gloryville provides a heavily refreshing and rewarding listen from an artist who is constantly evolving.