In the eyes and imagination of acclaimed singer-songwriter, Lindi Ortega, “Faded Gloryville” is a place we’ve all been, we’re all familiar with or will one day know all to well.
Some visit. Some stay. Some escape. Some leave only to return again.
And for Lindi, it was also the source of inspiration — in title and in spirit — for her stunning new collection of country-kissed songs that make up her fourth full-length release (Last Gang Records). It is an album that is filled with the sights and sounds and souls of those who’ve found themselves in “Faded Gloryville,” brought to its saloons, flophouses and cheap motels by drink, by debt, by vanity, heartbreak, failure, fear or misfortune.
Her first glimpse of the place, oddly enough, was in another artistic vision, that of the Jeff Bridges film Crazy Heart, which depicts a fellow musician exiled in a similar metaphorical town, down-and-out, drunk and debasing himself and his talents for those who could care less.
“I had a moment where I thought, ‘Could this be me? Could I wind up like this?’ ” says Lindi. “That was a very honest question to myself.”
That fact, the idea that she would question that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to those familiar with the subject matter of her past work, specifically 2013’s Juno Award-nominated Tin Star, considering much of it was powered by Lindi’s experiences as a young, struggling artist in the equally as fabled and dream-dashing place of Nashville, where she now makes her home.
Just as it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to those familiar with her incredible gifts that the feisty, fiery and fierce force of nature had no intention of taking up permanent residency in Faded Gloryville.
It was a pitstop. She took what she needed, saw the sights, hung with the locals, and high-tailed it out of there, hitting the road to capture its essence in three very different recording sessions.
The first two were with producers familiar to her work, Dave Cobb, who was behind the boards for Tin Star, and fellow Canadian castaway Colin Linden, who helped her realize her vision for 2012’s Polaris Prize nominated Cigarettes & Truckstops.
The results of those, Lindi says, should be pleasing to those many fans who’ve discovered her over the years, fallen hard for her own unique take on the torch and twang of her country influences such as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn that has taken her around the world to enthusiastic audiences everywhere.
The final session, though, was one that took her in a somewhat different direction, towards a more Muscle Shoals sound utilized by those that came before her such as Solomon Burke, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke — artists she expresses an affinity and fondness for.
Helping her navigate the new terrain were John Paul White from The Civil Wars and Ben Tanner from the Alabama Shakes, who co-produced in their studio in the deep south what Lindi describes as three of the album’s more “soulful tunes.”
Faded Gloryville features everything from barnburner songs and the good ol’ foot-stomping, toe-tapping numbers to the ballads that Lindi has made her calling card, all delivered with an energy and emotional investment that makes them utterly her own.