Canadian star's Glasgow love affair

TORONTO songbird Lindi Ortega could have let record company bosses try and shape her sound - instead she's carved out her own path.

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Lindi Ortega plays the Tron Theatre on Saturday
Lindi Ortega plays the Tron Theatre on Saturday

The country singer headlines the Tron Theatre on Saturday, as part of Celtic Connections, in support of her new album Tin Star.

It's a record that includesw various reflections on life as a struggling singer.

"I've not done anything radio friendly and obviously when you do that your path is very different, because you're growing your fan base organically and taking the longer road," she says.

"That was a choice I took, but I live in Nashville where plenty of people do the other thing and chase big radio hits. That contrast inspired a lot of songs on the record."

That's not to say the singer wasn't without big label opportunities, though.

After releasing two well-received indie-tinted albums she signed a deal with Interscope Records, the home of acts like Lady Gaga, where she found herself waiting, and waiting, and waiting…

"When I was on a major label my record got shelved for a year and a half, and they didn't know what to do with me," she recalls.

"At that point I could have given up, or gone more pop to make sure they kept me around, but I'm not driven by fame or celebrity.

"It's old country, blues, soul, old rock records I listen to, and when I create music I draw from those influences - it would seem unnatural to go any other way with what I do."

The result means she's a singer equally capable of playing shows with Keane and with legendary punk band Social Distortion (she's opened on tours for both), while her previous three albums (one a year since 2011) are flavoured with both barnstorming country foot-stompers and melancholy tunes aplenty.

Both styles display Lindi's smoky vocal, while the singer's lyrics deal with topics like loneliness and having her heart broken.

"Even if you have lots of friends, you can be in a crowd of people and feel alone, it can be mental as much as a physical thing," she says.

"It's something I come back to as I think it's prevalent in life, and heartbreak… I guess the unfortunate circumstances of my heart is something that people can relate to, and it's never likely not to be relevant."

A more promising love affair in the Canadian's life is with Glasgow. Her Celtic Connections gigs follows on from a raucous previous visit.

"Glasgow is one of my favourite places to play," she recalls cheerfully.

"The last time I played there was Nice N Sleazy, which was a great venue and the crowd were amazing - I'll never forget it.

"There were guys there wearing kilts, and someone gave me a Scottish flag to wear, so it was one of the best shows I can remember from that tour."

Lindi's experienced a variety of shows on her touring career, including a stint as a backing singer for Killers frontman Brandon Flowers, when he was promoting his solo album.

However, it was an experience that reaffirmed her desire to write her own material.

"It was interesting to be the backing singer for a bit and see how that side works," she says.

"It taught me to understand that perspective more and it also taught me that I have this overwhelming urge to be creative and be writing my own songs."

Given her chatty nature, it's not surprising Lindi also enjoys a chinwag with people when she's travelling from town to town - the stranger the better.

"I always feel like I'm pretty strange, so I might as well find like-minded people," she says.

"Usually I'll be able to find someone that's creeping in the corner of the airport bar like me. I like to find the loners in the world…"

n Lindi Ortega, Tron Theatre, Saturday, £13, 7.30pm.

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