It’s a nomadic journey, this sojourn of the singer and songwriter, as Toronto nightingale and new Cherrytree/Interscope Records artist Lindi Ortega knows all too well.
It’s the plight of the isolated that serves as the epicenter of the Ron Lopata-produced The Drifter E.P., the world’s four-song introduction to this remarkably exceptional talent…but Lindi is okay with that. “There’s a little bit of loneliness to a number of my songs,” admits Lindi, a sultry Mexican Canadian beauty, blessed with the most angelic voice this side of Emmylou Harris. “Because I feel I know it well through the experiences that I’ve been through, and also because I’m an only child, I want to speak to that audience and convey to them musically that I understand what it feels like. But I also want to reassure them that it’s okay to be different and to feel like that; to be your own person and do your own thing.”
With one foot in the outsider troubadour camp best exemplified by Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Leonard Cohen, and another in the old school country integrity of Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, Lindi Ortega fuses both these influences with gifted observation on her first single, “Dying Of Another Broken Heart.”
“I don’t believe in fairytales/I don’t believe in fate/ I don’t believe I’ll ever find my very own soulmate / So take me to the hospital in my terminal state/ I’m dying of another broken heart,” warbles Lindi in her anthem for the jilted. But it’s an anthem underscored with the smirk of a silver lining. “I’ve gone through a number of my own heartbreaks, and I’d just been slammed with another,” explains Lindi, who also counts Cat Power, Ray Lamontagne and Jeff Buckley among her chief inspirations. “I was tired of crying about it all the time, so I thought I would take a different approach – sort of make a satire of it.
Maybe if heartbreak was a little melodramatic and satirical like that, people might not feel so bad about it.”
Linda Ortega’s knack for narrative imagery can be heard on “All My Friends,” a spirited acoustic number that finds her personifying numerous vices and vocalizing some poignant irony. “’All My Friends” is a little bit of a Johnny Cash inspired number, that one,” says Lindi, a talented painter and jewelry designer.
The compelling and reality-challenged “Black Fly” and the itinerant “Drifter” round out on appetite-whetting The Drifter E.P., a precursor to a full length Lindi Ortega CD due later this summer. The four songs offer a slice-of-life-honesty that is as organic as Lindi’s self-evolved talent.
Raised in a Toronto suburb near a nuclear power plant as the only child of a Mexican father and Northern Irish mother, Lindi discovered music through osmosis. “My father was a bass player in a Latino band that backed up different singers,” Lindi recalls. “I must have been only four or five years old, watching him play on stage with these beautiful Latina women. I was mesmerized.”
Surprisingly, Lindi didn’t pick up a guitar until she was 16. “My Dad had bought my Mom this old classical guitar to teach her how to play, but she wasn’t interested, so he hung it on the wall like an ornament,” she chuckles. “One day I asked him if I could play it, and he taught me a “C” chord. I just wanted to learn three chords; because I knew once I learned them I could make a song from there. “I ended up teaching myself the rest through a book and watching peoples’ hands on MuchMusic.”
Encouraged by a classmate, Lindi found her public voice auditioning for a high school talent show. “The fact that people clapped for me was amazing and gave me this rush. I just wanted to do it again.” Branching out into the Toronto club scene, Lindi performed at such venerable landmarks as The El Mocambo and The Free Times Café. Producer Ron Lopata eventually discovered her MySpace site, and a partnership was born.
Since signing to Cherrytree, Lindi Ortega has played SXSW, performed in the U.K. and North America and opened for James Blunt, Ray Davies and Noah and The Whale.
Although it won’t be long until the striking singer and songwriter makes thousands of new friends through her evocative slice-of-life sonnets, Lindi Ortega says it’s important to reserve the alone time that fuels her creativity. “I need that alone time because I’ve had it my whole life. I need it to regenerate. It helps me to write the songs that I write. It’s necessary for me, to be reflective.”
And the muse of that reflection – The Drifter E.P. – is an exciting harbinger of things to come.