By Mike Dunn
Lindi Ortega finds some new inspiration on her fifth release, Liberty, drawing from the film scores of spaghetti maestro Ennio Morricone, as well as the compilation soundtracks from Quentin Tarantino films. Indeed, on that second note, you can imagine much of Liberty’s sound running through the background of some deep monologue between Thurman and Buscemi on the nature of filmmaking interspersed with all the “fucks”, “fuckins”, and “motherfuckers” that a Tarantino dialogue would entail.
Leading off with a motif that comes back around a few times through the record, the desert pasta of “Through The Dust”, Ortega and producer Skylar Wilson deftly handle Morricone’s sound of horns and reverb-soaked guitars, along with the signature harmonica from his masterpiece, “Once Upon A Time In The West,” while adding an eerie, haunted house feel that floats its way through the record as well. “You Ain’t Foolin’ Me” does a nice job of mixing Americana instrumentation with a melodramatic mid-80s arena vibe, bookended by “Afraid Of The Dark” and “Till My Dyin’ Day,” on which the instrumental feel of both Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” and the classic TexMex jazz of Santo & Johnny turn up in equal measure, though the influence of the former is most present on “Nothing’s Impossible.”
“Pablo” is a churchy lament for a bullet-riddled outlaw on horseback, the chorus sung as a Spanish torch ballad, loosely translated to “Pablo, he’s my love, he’s my fire, he’s my heart”, and whether it’s the melody, or the passion with which Ortega delivers the lines, it’s the biggest, most affecting chorus on the record.
Ortega’s had some some struggles in the past few years, but Liberty’s an excellent start at returning to form. Her voice is a signature, smouldering with the kind of pathos and heartache that’s essential to the genre. If Ortega matches arrangement and production as tight as Liberty to a set of tunes with the personal gravity and weight of 2017’s ’Til The Goin’ Gets Gone, the comeback will be complete, and she’ll likely have a classic on her hands.Independent, Liberty, Lindi Ortega