Lindi Ortega has discovered the recipe for making a classic country album. With a dash of rockabilly, a touch of blues, a dollop of soul and a voice that is a mix between Emmylou Harris and Jenny Lewis she has given us an almost ideal album for her genre.
‘Cigarettes and Truckstops’ may sound like a title for a generic country album, but the songs included on it are both timeless and truly original. It is that rare record where each song sounds familiar, but also like something you have never heard before.
The CD starts off with the title track ‘Cigarettes and Truckstops’, which is a song that would be comfortable on country radio stations from the 1970’s. A melancholy ballad about wanting to recapture a lost love, Lindi sings I’d rather have you still beside me than have you always running through my mind. If she showed up singing this song on her former lover’s doorstep, it is hard to imagine anyone turning her away.
‘The Day You Die’ is an upbeat song about suffering through a loveless marriage. In the song she pleads with her husband just don’t say you’ll love me ‘til the day you die. Although it is whimsical in its sound, at its core it is a song about despair and sadness. Those subjects are also at the core of the Patsy Cline-esque ‘Lead Me On’, where she captures the hopelessness of unrequited love.
Lindi Ortega’s Cigarettes and Truckstops
She adds a touch of rockabilly to her next song ‘Don’t Wanna Hear It’, which is a high energy, bluesy tune about being fed up with a lover’s lies. She gets her point across so well in the song that the listener is relieved that they aren’t the target of her lyrics. With a dash of honky-tonk piano, ‘Demons Don’t Get Me Down’ moves the album along nicely. The classic opening line Well, I wish I had some whiskey and I wish I had some weed, On nights when I feel so alone baby that’s just what I need would feel at home on any outlaw country record.
One can pick up that she is influenced by Johnny Cash on her song ‘Murder of Crows’, a bluesy number about committing homicide and hiding the body. While the protagonist in the song is clearly regretful of the act, she also doesn’t want to get caught; they aint gonna find me out, they aint gonna bring me down. From murder to suicide, ‘Heaven Has No Vacancy’ tackles the Catholic Church’s view of suicide. Her amazing story telling ability allows you a glimpse into the mind of a suicide victim. Regardless of your view on where suicide victims end up in the afterlife, it is hard not to be affected by her tale.
In ‘High’ she suggests using drugs to escape the worries of the world. The track evokes elements of dream pop into her album, which somehow does not seem out of place. In contrast, both musically and lyrically, ‘Use Me’ recommends that if you want to get your fix, use me.
The album ends with ‘Every Mile of the Road’, a satisfying road-trip ballad that seems like the perfect way to end this classic country album. This is a special album that should be on the top of best album of the year lists everywhere. Even if you aren’t a fan of country music, you won’t be able to help but fall in love with Lindi Ortega.
Written by Adam Gibson
OurVinyl | Contributor