As mentioned in Female Fridays, Faded Gloryville is Lindi Ortega’s fourth album for Last Gang Records. She brought in producer Dave Cobb from 2013’s Tin Star, as well as Colin Linden from 2012’s Cigarettes and Truckstops. Dave Cobb seems to be on a roll–he worked on Jason Isbell’s Something More Than Free as well. Lindi experimented with “a more Muscle Shoals sound,” for which she got help with Ben Tanner of Alabama Shakes and John Paul White of The Civil Wars. The result is the most soulful album of her career to date.
The album opens with “Ashes,” which is also my favorite track. Basically, the premise is that she was once in love, but now the fire has burned out, and he has left her with “these cold, dark ashes.” Lindi’s voice soars through this song, singing, “Darling, this is madness, why don’t you come back to me? Don’t leave me in the ashes of your memory.” The title track is similar to “Tin Star” and is an ode to the disillusioned dreamers who feel like there is no hope left. However, unlike “Tin Star,” which was only for musicians, this feels more universal. It is a theme that I feel Ortega uses too often, but this is still a good song, and I prefer it to “Tin Star.”
“Tell it Like it Is,” takes a more bluesy, soulful approach. Lindi is trying to persuade a man to stop pretending and “tell it like it is.” It’s a more interesting version of Clare Dunn’s “Move On.” Next is “Someday Soon,” which is one of the more relatable songs on the album. Lindi says she’s been “spending all my nights on someone that just ain’t right” and looks forward to a day “someday soon” when she can move on from her disappointing life. This is another song that stood out for me and will hit different people in different ways. Lindi then does a cover of “To Love Somebody,” and although it is unique, I prefer the original. Some people will probably love it, I am just not one of them. It was released ahead of the album, and it was the only song I heard beforehand that I didn’t like. I haven’t warmed up to it much.
“When You Ain’t Home” is an upbeat song ironically about the narrator feeling lonely while her lover is away. I said before that I hear Dolly Parton, Stevie Nicks, and Emmylou Harris in Lindi’s voice, depending on the song, but never have I heard so much soul in her voice. I can’t think of anyone to compare her to, and while it sounds less country, it makes her sound even more like just Lindi. This side of her adds to the individuality that she so obviously prizes. I can’t say I love this song, but I do love what it brings out in her.
“Rundown Neighborhood,” is a lighthearted track about two friends who look out for each other in a bad neighborhood. They are “bad for each other,” but that’s all right because they will always have each other’s backs. Among other things, they share whiskey, rum, cigarettes, and weed. Next is “I Ain’t the Girl,” a relatable song in which Lindi tells a guy she’s not the girl for him because he’s too straight-laced. She likes “long-haired guys” who are “rugged with tattoos,” and he wears a suit and tie. It’s a fun song, but it speaks to many people who feel like they are with the wrong match. As a girl who doesn’t like pretty boys like the one she seems to be describing, I am a little biased toward this song.
In “Run Amok,” Lindi pours out her frustration with someone who is doing “every crazy drug,” alcohol, etc. It’s upbeat and catchy, but a line still caught my attention–“When you run with the devil you burn everything you tuch, bridges and money and everyone you love.” In the end, she finally gives up and decides, “I’ll just let you run amok.” The album slows down to close with “Half Moon,” a thought-provoking ballad. This is actually one of my favorite songs on Faded Gloryville, but I was surprised that I enjoyed it because it is one of those that has to be heard to appreciate. She compares people–or at least herself–to “Half moons hanging in the sky,” with something to hide, but still shining some light. This is probably the most country song on the album, and the mystery in her voice fits the lyrics very well.
All in all, this is my favorite Lindi Ortega album as a whole. Some people will not like it as much as her previous material because of the more soulful songs, but I think this is more in her wheelhouse. This is also a better mix of ballads and upbeat songs, as well as a better balance of lighthearted and dark material. Faded Gloryville is a solid album and one that I would recommend, especially for people who have just been introduced to her work.