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Lindi Ortega's Cinematic 'Liberty' Takes Listeners To Unexpected Places


Lindi Ortega's new album "Liberty" is cinematic in its sweep, inspired by spaghetti Westerns and the movies of Quentin Tarantino. It's a journey that takes you to unexpected places, much like Ortega's recent life where she almost gave up the thing she most loved. It's the crossover country star's latest studio album. And she joins us from Calgary, Canada, to talk about it.

Welcome to the program.

LINDI ORTEGA: Hi. Thank you so much.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let's listen to a little bit of the song "Afraid Of The Dark."


ORTEGA: (Singing) Yeah, the dark is going to get ya. And soon you will be mine. Daylight never comes once I love someone. Don't come any closer to my heart if you're afraid of the dark.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You recently wrote an article where you talked about your experience with body dysmorphic disorder. Can you tell us what that is for those of us who don't know what it is?

ORTEGA: Yeah, it's, I guess - in clinical terms, it's somebody who has an obsession with maybe a minor real or imagined flaw or defect in appearance. But just, for me, it's all to do with my face.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, I think we all feel as women that we become self-conscious at a certain point of our bodies, the way we look and the way we're seen. But you kind of managed to incorporate it into your style onstage.

ORTEGA: Yeah, so it's interestingly enough music has been a bit of an exposure therapy for me that - I realized that even though I felt like maybe I was really ugly one day and - it's not just feeling ugly but it's beyond that. Like, it makes you feel depressed. And most times when I felt like that, I would just hide myself in and I'd almost become a agoraphobic. But with music, I just felt like I couldn't let down the people that bought a ticket to come see me sing.

So I ended up wearing a birdcage veil and it was just very thin piece of material that you could actually very much see my face. But that was enough to bring me a little bit of comfort to be able to sing in front of a room full of people. And it's only recently I've just started only wearing no veil but just a cowboy hat on stage. But, yeah, it's all sort of incorporated itself into my onstage look.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I want to listen to another song called "The Comeback Kid."


ORTEGA: (Singing) You took my life and wrecked it. But I've been resurrected. Oh, the comeback kid.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So there was something else that was going on while you were making this album. You almost gave up your career in music.

ORTEGA: Yes, I did. I had - definitely had a moment where at the level of music that I function in I don't make a lot of money. It's not a very lucrative business. And I was very disenchanted because I'd been working so hard and sacrificing so much of my life outside of music. And yet, I couldn't pay my rent. So I felt like a failure in a lot of ways. And I thought maybe, gosh it might be time for me to throw in the towel. And my manager said, no, you don't need to do this. Let me show you that, you know, there's a way for you to continue making music.

And so I put my faith in her. And she's been wonderful and helped me so much ever since. And the other thing that helped me so much was going back and reading, you know, the messages from the people that listen to my music. I just thought you know what I can't turn my back. I've got to keep doing it.


ORTEGA: (Singing in Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I want to end with "Gracias A La Vida," which means thanks for life essentially.

ORTEGA: Yeah (laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You are of Mexican descent. Why did you want to cover this Spanish song on the album?

ORTEGA: Yeah, well, that's a song by a Chilean singer but it is...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Violeta Parra.

ORTEGA: ...Yeah, that's right. Yeah, and it was just important to me. You know, there was a lot of challenges that came before this record and making this record. And I always wanted to sing in Spanish. I just never had the guts to do it before up until now. But that's really what I wanted to end with. I wanted to end with a positive note. I wanted people to understand that life is short and fleeting and we have to just try to love the moments that we can that are there for us to take and enjoy. And I want people to know that life is beautiful.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Lindi Ortega's new album is "Liberty."

Thank you so much for joining us.

ORTEGA: Thank you so much.


ORTEGA: (Singing in Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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