She has been tagged “Toronto’s best-kept secret.”
But that situation should swiftly change for Lindi Ortega — judging by her brilliant new alt-country masterpiece “Little Red Boots,” she’s the new Queen of Alt-Country, just waiting to be crowned.
Her voice is that Dolly Parton-pure, her songs (like “Blue Bird,” “Little Lie” and a glockenspiel-tinkly “Dying Of Another Broken Heart”) that Appalachian twangy, her approach that down-to-Earth real.
In fact, most country fans would be hard-pressed to ever pinpoint her as Canadian.
Her other nickname of “Indie Lindi,” however makes more sense. She’s signed to hipster imprint Last Gang Records, which will be issuing her new Christmas EP this month, and — on a whim — she just shot a daguerreotype-grainy video for her track “Angels” on her iPhone, and it wound up winning the iPhone Film Contest.
She called last week before breezing into San Francisco tonight for a must-see show at the Red Devil Lounge.
Have you ever thought about just sweeping into Nashville, hooking up with a killer publishing company, and showing all those Hallmark-card-cheesy composers exactly how it’s done?
Well, I have a co-venture deal with my label’s publishing wing, which is based out of Nashville. I was there for two months, which is where the “Little Red Boots” story actually starts. I ended just up writing with a whole bunch of people, and I discovered at that time that I have a very specific writing style, and that there were certain people that got it and certain people that didn’t. And I realized right away that I’m very much not of the whole “New Country” vibe or way of doing things. But I’m going back. I’m actually going to move there.
What?! Why, given how you feel about the place?
Well, in the two months that I was there I also learned that everybody — regardless of the kind of music they’re doing in Nashville — is very driven, very ambitious and constantly working hard and being productive. When you call up a friend that you met in Nashville and say “Hey, what are you doing today? You wanna get together?” they always reply “I can’t till later — I’m working on some songs.” And then I think to myself “Hmm ... maybe I should be working on songs, too!” And I was inspired to write there, and I did actually come up with a few cool songs while I was there. So I figure a change of scenery will be good for me.
You’re not worried about suddenly regressing into Lady Antebellum?
I’ve had the warnings, like “Oh, Nashville will destroy you, blah, blah, blah.” But I don’t think it will. I kind of pride myself on being a little different in Nashville — I don’t want to be the same as everybody else, I’m not trying to be. I like the fact that I’m doing something that’s a little off the beaten path, and I think I have a strong enough constitution to never let outside forces turn me into anything else. I mean, if that was gonna happen, it would’ve happened when I was on a major label (for her 2008 Interscope EP “The Drifter”) and people were coaxing me to be more like Norah Jones. But I was like “No. I’m gonna do this kind of music, even though it doesn’t sell in my homeland, in Toronto, and even though I don’t live in an area where it could grow and become something.” But I just wanted to do this music anyway, because it was what I loved. And I always just go with my heart and my gut.