All posts by Megan

Female Fridays: Featuring Lindi Ortega

Her new album, Faded Gloryville, is available today, (expect a review shortly), so today the Female Friday spotlight is on Lindi Ortega.

How You Might Know Lindi

If you watch ABC’s Nashville, you may have heard Lindi–she has had several song placements on the show. (Interesting that a TV show would help promote her, but radio won’t…)


From a 2013 interview with
Saving Country Music
in reference to her motivation to make music that might not have mass commercial appeal

But my motivation comes from my influences, and people that have stuck to their guns. I read a lot of biographies. If there is one thing I can respect more than anything, it’s individuality in music. And I think back in the early era of country music that was so apparent. Like you could really tell your Johnny Cash from your Waylons from your Merles. They all had a distinct thing happening. And they were all really great at what they did. It was really important for me to etch out my own thing as a student of that.

From one listen to Lindi Ortega, I can tell she means every word she says. She easily has the most unique female voice in country music today.

Lindi Ortega (born May 28, 1980, from Toronto, Ontario), wrote her first song, “Faded Dress” at the age of seventeen. She spent many hard years in the Toronto music scene, where she gained the nickname “Indie Lindi.” Her struggles as an artist, as well as the universal struggles of musicians, are often referenced in her songs. The best example of this is the title track from her 2013 album Tin Star, where she sings of the “tin stars” who are “lost in the shining stars of Nashville, Tennessee.”

After struggling for about a decade and eventually moving to Nashville, Lindi signed with Last Gang Records in 2011. She has released three albums since then, including Little Red Boots, (2011), Cigarettes and Truckstops, (2012), and Tin Star (2013.) She is known for her unique soprano voice, wich has been compared to the voices of both Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. When I first heard her sing, I heard Dolly Parton and Stevie Nicks, but in other songs I can hear Emmylou Harris as well. Her albums have received much critical acclaim, and she has been nominated for several awards by the Canadian Country Music Association. In 2014, Lindi won the CCMA Award for Roots Artist or Group of the Year and was nominated for Female Artist of the Year. She has also been nominated by the CCMA for 2015’s Roots Artist or Group of the Year.

Since this column is dedicated to promoting females, it should be noted that my first exposure to Lindi Ortega came shortly after the “tomato” incident in May. Lindi spoke out about the comments in an article called
“I Say, Include Women”
Lindi comments,

Women have had to fight to be treated as equals in society. We have had to fight for equal pay. We have had to fight against sexism, harassment, misogyny. And as if we don’t have enough battles, now we have to fight to get equal play on the radio. The entertainment industry has got to be one of the most difficult industries for women, because we are faced with so many double standards. We decide to have children and suddenly we are asked about how we can handle having a child and a career. Or the public is more concerned with who designed our dress rather than what inspired our craft.

But circling back to “take women out,” just think of those words: “TAKE WOMEN OUT.” I can’t begin to describe to you how my blood boils at those words. Erase us, delete us . . . make it so we don’t exist.

I highly recommend reading this; when I read it, I immediately wanted to check out her music. When I did, I found songs from each of her first three albums that I enjoyed. I would not have known about her if she hadn’t spoken up about this. Her fourth album for Last Gang Records, Faded Gloryville, comes out today, and I will have a review soon.

Why Lindi Belongs on Country Radio

Lindi Ortega is not seeking airplay at all. Up to this point, she hasn’t released anything with widespread mainstream appeal and seems to stick to her “individuality” that she values so much. I would argue that that is exactly why she belongs on the radio. I have seen comments on other sites by Canadians who say she doesn’t even get played up there. What do we hear every time we turn on a show like The Voice? They want uniqueness, originality, individuality, etc. I hear Blake Shelton talk all the time about turning on the radio and immediately recognizing someone’s voice. If uniqueness is what we’re going for, Lindi Ortega should be getting radio airplay. She has the most distinct female sound in country music.

Tracks I Recommend

Lindi has a lot of dark material, and I am not always a fan of dark albums, so I don’t prefer to listen to everything on all her albums. Having said that, most of it is good, and if you have a taste for it, you will like most of it. These tracks are my personal preferences. Also, just like with Ashley Monroe, her new album is off limits.

1. Murder of Crows–Cigarettes and Truckstops
2. Little Lie–Little Red Boots
3. Cigarettes and Truckstops–Cigarettes and Truckstops
4. When all the Stars Align–Little Red Boots
5. Angels–Little Red Boots
6. Bluebird–Little Red Boots
7. The Day You Die–Cigarettes and Truckstops
8. Tin Star–Tin Star
9. I Want You–Tin Star

Listen to Little Red Boots

This was my first introduction to Lindi’s remarkable and distinct voice. Like I said, I hear Dolly Parton and Stevie Nicks. Certainly not a bad comparison.

Billboard Country Airplay and Country Albums Chart (August 15th)

Billboard Country Airplay

1. Luke Bryan–“Kick the Dust Up” (up 3) [really?]
2. Michael Ray–“Kiss You in the Morning” (up 1) [again, really?]
3. Frankie Ballard–“Young and Crazy” (up 3)
4. Zac Brown Band–“Loving You Easy” (up 1)
5. Brantley Gilbert–“One Hell of an Amen” (down 4)
6. Jason Aldean–“Tonight Looks Good on You” (down 4)
7. Dustin Lynch–“Hell of a Night”
8. Sam Hunt–“House Party”
9. Thomas Rhett–“Crash and Burn” (up 2)
10. Chris Janson–“Buy Me a Boat” (up 2)
11. Brett Eldredge–“Lose My Mind” (up 3)
12. Keith Urban–“John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” (up 1)
13. Eric Church–“Like a Wrecking Ball” (up 2)
14. Kenny Chesney–“Save It for a Rainy Day” (up 3)
15. Maddie & Tae–“Fly” (up 1)
16. Chase Rice–“Gonna Wanna Tonight” (up 3)
17. Jake Owen–“Real Life” (up 1)
18. Cole Swindell–“Let Me See Ya Girl” (up 3)
19. Florida Georgia Line–“Anything Goes” (up 3)
20. Dan + Shay–“Nothin’ Like You” (up 5) [biggest gainer]
21. Kip Moore–“I’m to Blame” (down 1)
22. Old Dominion–“Break up With Him” (up 1)
23. Lady Antebellum–“Long Stretch of Love” (up 2)
24. Cam–“Burning House” (up 2)
25. Big & Rich–“Run Away With You” (up 2)
26. Brothers Osborne–“Stay a Little Longer” (up 2)
27. Parmalee–“Already Callin’ You Mine” (up 2)
28. Chris Young–“I’m Comin’ Over” (up 2)
29. Jana Kramer–“I Got the Boy” (entering top 30)
30. Hunter Hayes–“21” (entering top 30)

  • new No. 1: “Kick the Dust Up”
  • next week’s No. 1 prediction: “Kiss You in the Morning”
  • Luke Bryan and Michael Ray have albums coming out Friday, and they have the No. 1 and No. 2 slots…how convenient
  • once again, a good song (Jana Kramer) enters the top 30 and is balanced by crap (Hunter Hayes)
  • Brad Paisley’s “Crushin’ It” and Canaan Smith’s “Love You Like That” fell from No. 9 and No. 10, respectively, to out of the top 30

Billboard Top Country Albums

1. Alan Jackson–Angels and Alcohol
2. Ashley Monroe–The Blade [debut]
3. Sam Hunt–Montevallo
4. Jason Isbell–Something More Than Free
5. Zac Brown Band–Jekyll + Hyde
6. Eric Church–The Outsiders
7. Little Big Town–Painkiller
8. Jason Aldean–Old Boots, New Dirt
9. Brantley Gilbert–Just as I Am
10. Florida Georgia Line–Anything Goes
11. Kacey Musgraves–Pageant Material
12. Various Artists–Now That’s What I Call Country, Volume 8
13. Luke Bryan–Crash My Party
14. Willie Nelson/Merle Haggard–Django and Jimmie
15. Chase Rice–Ignite the Night
16. Luke Bryan–Spring Break…Checkin’ Out
17. Zac Brown Band–Greatest Hits So Far…
18. Easton Corbin–About to Get Real
19. Cole Swindell–Cole Swindell
20. Kenny Chesney–The Big Revival
21. Big Smo–Bringin’ It Home (EP)
22. Blake Shelton–Bringing Back the Sunshine
23. Carrie Underwood–Greatest Hits: Decade #1
24. Miranda Lambert–Platinum
25. Kelsea Ballerini–The First Time

  • Alan Jackson’s Angels and Alcohol hits No. 1 after all
  • Ashley Monroe’s mostly great album The Blade debuts at No. 2
  • Luke Bryan will probably have three albums on this chart next week…
  • if Sam Hunt weren’t in the way, this would be the best top five albums I’ve seen in awhile…sadly, he is infecting it
  • who is buying these Now That’s What I Call Country albums???

Source: Billboard

Album Review: Blackberry Smoke–Holding all the Roses

Rating: 10/10

Blackberry Smoke had the distinction of having the first No. 1 country album by an independent artist earlier this year. Country Exclusive didn’t exist when it came out in February, but it deserves to be reviewed. While I say that this album is a rock album first and a country album second, it does something that few pop country albums and rock country albums do well. It doesn’t seek to blend the styles all the time. In other words, rock songs are rock, and country songs are country. When the styles actually are blended, it is done flawlessly. This album was my first introduction to Blackberry Smoke, and I am now a fan.

The rock song “Let me Help You (Find the Door”) opens the album. These lines were my first meeting with Blackberry Smoke

Why’s it got to be the same damn thing,
The same damn song that everybody wants to sing
Same sons of bitches still rigging the game
They sell the same old faces with a brand-new name

I love that they chose to open with this; it shows that what you see is what you get. I also like the rock protest element of the song blended with the lyrics protesting the state of country. Next is “Holding All the Roses,” in which they blend acoustic guitars and fiddles with electric guitars to create the closest thing to country metal I’ve ever heard. Lyrically, it’s great too, with lines about coming out of hard times and “Holding all the roses on the other side.” This is probably my favorite song on the album, but it’s really hard to pick.

Next is “Living in the Song,” a song about living out the words to a heartbreak song. It’s got rock music and country lyrics…that’s all I can say. Following this is the fun rock song aptly titled “Rock and Roll Again.” It feels like I just stepped back into the 70’s here with this. If there were more of these songs on the album, it would bring it down, but one is just right and feels more like an experiment that worked rather than a completely different sound. Next is the blended track, “Woman in the Moon.” This is a slower song which describes living life “a little off-kilter.” I paid more attention here to the instrumentation, which features haunting fiddles and electric guitars. It’s a song that’s hard to explain and one you need to hear for yourself to really appreciate. “Too High” is the first completely country song and is something I could picture on an Alabama album. “That mountain is too high for me to climb, that river is too deep and it’s too wide,” the group sings. This feeling seems to be temporary though, and this feels like a laidback, less angry version of “Holding all the Roses.”

“Wish in One Hand” goes back to rock. It’s a song about someone who is wishing to be rich, liked by everyone, etc. They illustrate that this will never be reality with the brilliant line, “Wish in one hand, shit in the other, see which one fills up first for you, brother.” The instrumental “Randolph Country Farewell” is a nice acoustic country interlude before “Payback’s a Bitch.” This rock song is about a man telling a woman just that. I love the line, “If I were you, I’d sleep with one eye open.” I also love how much thought the group seems to put into their lyrics, even on rock songs. It makes you want to listen to the words as much as the music. Their lyrical focus comes from their country leanings.

Blackberry Smoke ventures back to country for the next two songs. “Lay it All on Me” is a fun song that paints an amusing picture of our dirty little secrets. The narrator falls in love with a girl with a complicated past and is now on the run from her and her brother after being caught cheating. “No Way Back to Eden” argues that the world is so full of sin and evil that it is beyond help. It’s another one that you really need to hear to appreciate. The album closes much as it began–with an angry rock song. “Fire in the Hole” feels more personal, like an attack on a record label or executive. Lines like “I can’t see why you are the one who holds the key” point to this, but I could be wrong.

Holding all the Roses is an excellent album. It’s more rock than country, but it succeeds at both. If you want to hear nothing but steel guitar and stripped-down country, this is not the album for you. If you love rock and country, and would like to see what would happen if AC/DC and Charlie Daniels produced a musical child, buy this album. It’s one of the best albums of the year by far.

Listen to Album

Random Thoughts of the Week: In Memory of Lynn Anderson

Lynn Anderson, best known for the hit (“I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden,” passed away Thursday night (July 30th) at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville after a heart attack. She was sixty-seven years old. The singer, known as the “Great Lady of Country Music” had twelve No. 1’s in her career and has been one of the most successful females in country music history.

Lynn Rene Anderson, (born September 26, 1947, in Grand Forks, North Dakota), was interested in country music at a very early age. Her parents were both songwriters; her mother, Liz Anderson, wrote Merle Haggard’s “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive.” Lynn released her debut album Ride, Ride, Ride in 1966 at age nineteen. She is best known for (“I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden,” a country hit that was also an adult contemporary and pop crossover success. She won the ACM Top Female Vocalist award in 1967 and 1970, as well as the CMA Female Vocalist of the Year award in 1971. Lynn won a Grammy Award in 1971 for Best Vocal Performance for “Rose Garden” and became the first woman to win an American Music Award. She was named one of Billboard’s Artists of the Decade in 1980.

Perhaps more important than her own success is the
path she paved for female artists. Lynn became the first country female to sell out Madison Square Garden in 1974. She had over fifty Top 40 hits in her career, making her one of the most successful women in country music to date. She has been considered many times for, but not yet inducted into, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and it’s unfortunate that they didn’t induct her before she passed away.

Lynn was known early in her career as the “California Horse Show Queen.” She raised horses and obtained several distinctions, including sixteen national championships and eight world championships. Later in life, she worked with the “Special Riders of Animalland,” a therapeutic horseback riding program for children. She never stopped showing horses or recording. In fact, she had just released a gospel album entitled Bridges on June 9th. The “Great Lady of Country Music” will be missed. Lynn has left her mark on the genre, as well as on music in general. At a time like this, it is especially important to remember the difference female voices can make in country music.

Tomato of the Week: Lindi Ortega

Her album comes out Friday, so it’s time to feature Lindi Ortega on Female Friday! By the way, don’t buy Luke Bryan or Michael Ray’s albums this Friday, buy Lindi Ortega’s…this will do more for country music than Jason Isbell did by beating Alan Jackson.

Random Country Suggestion: Jason Eady–Daylight and Dark

This was probably my favorite album of 2014. Plus, there’s been a lot of talk about Texas country on here lately, so seems appropriate.

Listen to Daylight and Dark

No non-country suggestion, just go listen to “Rose Garden.”

Single Review: Luke Bryan Explores a New Kind of Crap With “Strip it Down”

Rating: 0/10

Luke Bryan has released a second song from his upcoming album Kill the Lights–and it actually is not a copy of “That’s my Kind of Night” or “Kick the Dust Up.” Country Exclusive didn’t exist when the atrocity that is “Kick the Dust Up” came out, so you were saved the rant, but let me say that that “song” was one of the driving factors behind this blog. I didn’t think I could possibly hate anything Luke produced worse than “Kick the Dust Up,” but then I have underestimated these things before. Enter “Strip it Down,” the r&b/pop copy of Jason Aldean’s hit “Burnin’ it Down.” Incidentally, Luke released this lyric video “exclusively” on Tinder, and I won’t go into a rant about how sleazy this is, but do yourself a favor and go read Trigger’s own rant on SCM
Here From the article:

It’s only fair to mention that officially, Tinder is not meant to be exclusively about setting up sex rendezvous. It’s just a dating app. But I’ll tell you this: If I was looking to blow off a little steam and hook up for the night, or was feeling a little lonely and wanted to go looking for love, the last thing I would want to see is the country music Gomer Pyle on there shilling his stupid video. I mean shit, you can’t get away from this guy.

But since SCM took care of that, let’s discuss the song itself. It’s about Luke wanting to reconnect with an old love by “stripping it down.” Immediately, Dierks Bentley’s “Come a Little Closer” comes to mind, as this is basically the premise of that song as well. So let’s compare the two.

Dierks’s is country with some rock. Like I already said, this is pop and r&b, with the only reference to country being the comment about getting back to the way things were “When it was an old back road and an old school beat, Cowboy boots by your little bare feet.” Dirt roads get an obligatory mention even when the song is not bro country. I assume the “old school beat” is the bro country sound before this new r&b/pop/metro-politan disease infected the genre…irony at its finest. Also, Dierks Bentley talked much more about the girl. “I feel like layin’ you down on a bed of sweet surrender where we can work it all out,” “I wanna touch you like a cleansing rain,.” and “I feel like lettin’ go of everything that stands between us and the love we used to know.” Luke does say, “Let me run my fingers down your back” but more often we find lines about the scenery, like the “white cotton sheets,” “feel my belt turn loose from these old blue jeans,” and this completely unnecessary “I wanna drop this cell phone out, Let it shatter on the ground.” It’s trying to be romantic, but it comes off like he is in a hurry to have sex rather than desperate to get back the love they lost. In fact, love is never mentioned, at least not in that context; the song simply says, “We both know that we lost it somehow, let’s get it found, strip it down, down, down.” The word “Love” is mentioned once in the bridge, with the line, “I just wanna love you so bad, baby.” So again, it sounds like he is just desperate to hook up with her. Then again, if they are getting back to the way it was on an old back road with an old school beat, then hooking up with her by a river is probably what he is going for here. Last, but certainly not least, Dierks Bentley’s “Come a Little Closer” shows emotion and actually makes you want to go have sex, whereas Luke Bryan’s “Strip it Down” just made me bored, distracted, and eventually disgusted and ready to rant about it.

This is not headache inducing like “Kick the Dust Up” and maybe wouldn’t have gotten a 0 if I hadn’t compared it to “Come a Little Closer.” But the fact is, I immediately did, and in that light, this song goes from being boring, unoriginal crap to something I hate as bad, if not worse than, his bro country collection. Those songs, at least, did what they set out to accomplish. This, after “Kick the Dust Up,” certainly does not bode well for Friday’s album.