Lindi Ortega left Nashville, and nearly country music, behind after realizing that despite her awards and critical acclaim, she still couldn’t pay her rent. Eventually, she ended up at the piano writing what she believed would be her final song, “Final Bow.” But as it so often does, music came out of these struggles, and “Final Bow” ended up as the first song on Ortega’s new EP. And even though it’s only 4 songs, there’s that common thread of pain and hope running through this EP that gives this project a cohesive feel generally not possible, and definitely not easy, with EP’s.
The title track opens the EP, speaking of going on despite all of life’s hardships “til the goin’ gets gone.” Perhaps the line that sums up this whole EP and Ortega’s frame of mind is “and I hope someday they find me, see that I was on my way, when I lay down by the side of the road where I made my grave.” The sparse arrangements here and throughout the EP really add to it, and let the world-weariness in Lindi’s voice shine through. This is an excellent song, and it’s the one you should pick if you only choose one. Next is “What a Girls Gotta Do,” another heartbreaking song in which Lindi sings about a stripper who can’t pay her bills and had no choice but to take this job: “it might make your daddy cry, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to survive.” This is another one you should absolutely hear. Ortega’s cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Waiting ‘Round to die” fits the EP perfectly; this is the first time I’ve heard a woman sing this song, and she really pulls it off well. “Final Bow” closes the EP, and because there are only four songs, this brings it down as a whole from a ten. My problems with this one are, although the lyrics are great and it speaks to Lindi personally, it’s almost so personal that it doesn’t really connect. She wrote it as her farewell to music and didn’t think it would see the light of day, and even though it fits with the tone of the album, it doesn’t have the universality that makes “Til the Goin’ gets Gone” stand out. Also, the other songs featured acoustic guitar, and this one switches to piano which I didn’t really feel worked for it and interrupted the feel of the EP.
It’s a shame that Lindi Ortega went through so much in her life to inspire this music, to make every word on this short project sound real and borne of pain and struggle. But music is meant to be real and relatable, and through her hardships, she produced something beautiful. I absolutely recommend checking out this EP, and I hope we’ll be seeing more from her in the future.