Review: ‘Tennessee Christmas’ by Lindi Ortega
You’re likely sick of all of the lists this time of year – shopping lists, “Best of” lists, play lists, packing lists.
But please indulge me and consider putting ‘Tennessee Christmas,’ a new EP by up-and-coming country artist Lindi Ortega on your personal check-out-and-buy list.
Ortega first came to my attention this summer when her debut album ‘Little Red Boots’ was released on Last Gang Records. In talking to the Toronto-based, Nashville-minded artist for my OurStage column, what struck me most was the sincerety she radiated that seems to naturally flow to her songwriting and performances.
That’s especially true on her just-released four-song holiday EP in which she’s backed by Ricky Skaggs’ multi-Grammy Award winning band Kentucky Thunder. I was disappointed when I read a few reviews by my colleagues that seemed to yearn for Ortega to adopt unconventional styling on every song. I found vocal variety made EP especially compelling. To do otherwise would strike me as putting ‘Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” on an endless, and inappropriate, loop.
That’s not to say Ortega doesn’t have fun. ‘All I Want for Christmas is a Cowboy,’ is a smile-inducing bluegrass romp with Ortega singing about the one thing on her holiday wish list, her very own “John Wayne.”
But like candy, a little bit of sugary holiday tunes can go a long way. That’s why it’s lovely to hear her vocally move into more traditional tones on the the emotional holiday ballad ‘Christmas Carol’ and the equally charming love song ‘Christmas Eve with You.’
As far as a well-known classic holiday song I found Ortega’s rendition of ‘Blue Christmas,’ complete with the band’s signature bluegrass fiddles and twangs, a true treat that updated the original while doing Elvis Presley all-kinds-of-proud.
Want to give yourself a holiday treat this year? Check out this recording. Find out more at Ortega’s MySpace page.