Last time we heard from Lindi Ortega she was hanging out in Faded Gloryville, where success was in the past but there was still a warm glow of positivity in her voice. This new E.P. Til The Goin’ Gets Gone takes a much darker turn, and was recorded at a time when she was deciding whether or not to continue with her career in music.
While it’s true that Ortega has found success, especially with the critics, she has never really crossed over to the mainstream. Even though she says she never intended to ‘make it’ you know that sustaining an independent career in today’s music industry is tough. In the end you have to make a living and pay the bills.
So what’s the solution? You could try to bring in fancy producers, co-writers and attempt go pop but that’s not helped many. You could permanently become a backing singer, she’s done it before, or guitarist in someone else’s band. Or you could give up music entirely, disappear and become another lost career.
The opening song on the EP Til the Goin’ Gets Gone has Lindi contemplating these dilemmas, singing about how tough it is out on the road. She imagines keeping going until she’s dead in a ditch somewhere, forgotten. This is the price for keeping going, no matter what. Getting off the highway, giving up and going home sounds like the easy way out. Thankfully she’s not ready for that yet. And this is the kind of beautiful song that proves keeping going is worth it.
What a Girl’s Gotta Do takes this even further – using the tale of a reluctant stripper to illustrate how tough life can be for some women. You can’t feed a family with no pay so sometimes you have to use what you can to survive. Everything in life is a perfomace anyway, isn’t it? Lindi’s voice is full of sympathy and understanding. But still there’s a haunting sadness too, as if she knows it’s wrong that women are reduced to this.
The next song on this EP is a cover of ‘Waiting ‘Round to Die’ where things are as bleak as possible (Laura Marling also does a great version of this song live). Here Townes Van Zandt’s lyrics take us to the dark side where booze, gambling, crime and drugs are a way to survive life’s pain. Lindi has always had this gothic glamour to her work – you know it’s essentially a performance but on this song she plays and sings it like she’s lived it.
Final Bow is a slow piano lament where she contemplates leaving the stage and she really sounds like she means it. This song has an old Hollywood glamour about it and you could argue it’s not just about singing, it’s also just about living. You do get sick of everything. Sometimes it’s a career or a relationship or a place you live in that just doesn’t feel right anymore. There’s only so much failure you can take (see Angaleena’s new album too). This isn’t a suicide song or anything but it’s an acknowledgement that sometimes it’s easier to cut your losses. Despite this being the last song you have a feeling that it’s not the end. She’ll take the applause but you hope she will find the strength to come back and play an encore.
If you don’t think what’s happened to Lindi is a gender issue then you’re wrong. Female singers and bands still sell less than their male counterparts even though we know they have the talent. We need to support our female artists, because we can’t risk them quitting. So buy this E.P. and take this dark music to your heart, because if voices like Lindi’s are silenced then that really would be a tragedy.