With Zoe Muth playing close by it was a toss-up to decide on which artist to see but on balance we chose to go and see Linda Ortega who had her full band The Wild Wranglers with her. It was the right choice (for us) as it was a great evening with Ortega a force of nature delivering a powerful set that should see her reputation and audience growing in the future. Greeting us with a "It's great to be back" she launched into her first song Angels, one of several songs from her enticing debut album Little Red Boots. Each song was introduced by a short incisive explanation. For instance Lindi told us that I'm No Elvis Presley was written after she did a industry showcase in L.A. and one of the 'men in suits' had contacted her manager to say while she was good she would never be "legendary". Hence the song. And while Lindi Ortega may never achieve "legendary" status she is going to find a lot of devoted fans. Other songs from the album included Black Fly, Little Lie, When All The Stars Align, a stunning Bluebird and heartbreaking Dying Of Another Broken Heart. Heartbreak was a continuing theme through her songs. She told us she had recently brought a crystal on a necklace that was going to bring her some true love.
She played several new songs including one which she said was a public service announcement, its theme was don't use drugs, "use me". Another song In My Backyard was about burying a former lover in that particular location. "Just don't break my heart, boys" she warned us. The band throughout were excellent and had apparently only met for a rehearsal the day before, as although they had individually all played with her before this was their first gig together with this line-up. Double bassist Travis Vance and drummer Tristen Henderson laid down a solid rhythmic foundation, while keyboard player and backing vocalist Sarah Silva (an artist in her own right) filled out the sound. Special mention must go to guitarist James Robertson whose Telecaster playing was precise, twang-filled and fun. His slide playing on the closing Fall Down Or Fly was worthy of Sonny Landreth.
There were two covers of Johnny Cash songs - Folsom Prison Blues and Delia, the latter played solo and she revealed herself to be an accomplished guitarist as well as a stunning vocalist. Live the Dolly Parton comparison was more pronounced, though I don't think Parton has ever delivered her songs with such force and ferocity. Her fifteen song set had the enthusiastic audience totally with her and ensured that when she returns so will these fans. She promised a new album later this year and this Irish-Mexican (the Irish Lindi said was on "the mammy's side") songbird will be back. Can't wait.
Review by Stephen Rapid. Photograph by Ronnie Norton