Release Date: Feb 18, 2014
Record label: Bloodshot
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
The different shades of longing and desire that are woven through the songs on Lydia Loveless’ Somewhere Else constitute a whole world of broken dreams. The energy for escape, for newness, for something other than the grinding daily reality of flaws and failures that forms the beating heart of Somewhere Else is a credit to Loveless’ pointed songwriting, wise and simple at the same time. Lyrically, this is an album of blood and guts and emotions—anger and yearning and lust—that are so honest and immediate that they beg to be shared.
The difference between the opening track of Americana singer/songwriter Loveless’ previous album, and this (her third) neatly summarizes her change in approach. Whereas 2012’s Indestructible Machine kicked off with a banjo led distinct country twang, the appropriately named Somewhere Else rocks out with the sexed up “Really Want to See You” and continues that thought and tough, garage punch with the self-explanatory “Wine Lips.” Producer/mixer Joe Viers gets a huskier, swampier sound out of Loveless and her rugged backing outfit as the singer sounds more assured tackling material that’s some of the best she has written. Only the occasional appearance of steel guitar and Loveless’ natural drawl steers this near C&W territory.
A friend of mine once told me a story about the time he was smoking a joint with John Sinclair a few years back. The poet-activist—who used to manage the MC5 in the late ‘60s before being sentenced to 10 years in prison for minor possession—explained to him the problem with a lot of modern rock music: “They forgot the roll; the roll is the sex part.” With Lydia Loveless’ third full-length studio album, Somewhere Else, which finds the Columbus, Ohio alt-country songwriter trading honkey tonk punk for gritty rock ‘n’ roll, this isn’t a problem. Sex blasts from the amps and, as usual, is a consistent theme in her lyrics.
Judging from Lydia Loveless' second album for Bloodshot, 2014's Somewhere Else, relationships don't come easy for her. She falls for married men, she thinks a lot about her old boyfriends, she's lonely, she's needy, she gets lust mixed up with love (and vice versa), and she wants the sort of grand-scale romance that doesn't work in real life. In short, she's a twenty-something woman who lives in the real world (it doesn't get much more real than Columbus, Ohio) and has developed an uncanny ability to talk about matters of the heart and soul with a lyrical voice that's graceful, keenly observed, and brutally honest.
Lydia Loveless rocks this, her barnburner of a third full album. While there's a Stevie Nicks-ish vulnerability to her voice that beckons for macho protection, she also sounds like she'd probably kick a man's ass for trying. As tough as nails, and a terrific songwriter, Loveless' brand of alt-country errs on the side of rock more often than not.
In the first song on her third full-length, Somewhere Else, Lydia Loveless goes to a party, does some blow, calls up an ex, and tries to break up his marriage. A few songs later, she compares herself to Paul Verlaine, the 19th-century French poet whose relationship with the teenage Arthur Rimbaud was notoriously violent. On another song, our heroine drinks herself to sleep while dreaming of an old lover and his talents between the sheets.
Two years ago Lydia Loveless released her debut album Indestructible Machine on Chicago based label Bloodshot Records â?? a home for what some call â??insurgent country' music and which others refer to as alt-country (the former sounds so much better I think). That record had a wild and free kind of approach, all of which was done using quite a frantic musical background, a blend of country and bluegrass along with a blatant disregard for convention. Despite it being invigorating, I was left struggling to keep up as the tracks seemed to careen all over the place without any cohesion.
Somewhere Else, the second album by alt-country singer Lydia Loveless, is a polished package, but was aiming to go—as the title suggests—somewhere else. By stripping off the honky-tonk frills of her debut, Indestructible Machine, Loveless achieves the kind of directness found on Liz Phair’s Exile In Guyville, except Loveless doesn’t always give us the coordinates to get there. The album benefits from Loveless’ ear for melody and arrangements that smooth over genre lines between contemporary pop, rock, and country.
With that voice, Lydia Loveless is always going to get described as a country singer. She is indeed a product of a rural upbringing, growing up on a farm just outside of Coshocton, Ohio. But that Lynn-Wells twang is simply a general reflection of her roots, more than any precise musical inspiration (although her namesake Patti Loveless isn’t too far afield).
Lydia Loveless’s last EP was called Boy Crazy, a fact that might seem to align her with the Taylor Swift school of cutesy boy-meets-girl/boy-breaks-girl’s-heart pop-country music. But Boy Crazy, and her newest full-length Somewhere Else, actually finds her mining territory much more similar to Liz Phair’s seminal Exile in Guyville (1993)—it’s bursting with lust and love and regret in a real way, and the vulnerability at its heart is couched in Phair-style frankness. It is, in fact, hard to believe that Loveless, now 23, is actually slightly younger than Taylor Swift; with her powerful Neko Case-style vocals and bravado, she could pass for much older.
The third album from Columbus, Ohio's Lydia Loveless betrays the young singer's age, in a big way. It also betrays labels: alt-country? No way. Indie? Nope. Classy, old-school, country-tinged rock? Well, yeah, but this doesn't sound like something your dad gets quietly drunk to on the weekend. It ….
Lydia Loveless Somewhere Else (Bloodshot) Anyone who had complaints about Lydia Loveless sounding like Neko Case on her Bloodshot debut, 2011's Indestructible Machine, will be glad to know that the young Ohioan has matured past that on follow-up Somewhere Else. Loveless still occasionally shares Case's lusty punk attitude, but her songs jangle and bop in all the right ways, and her emotions sound quite a bit less affected. Lyrically, Loveless can still hit a clinker ("Verlaine Shot Rimbaud") or two ("Head"), but the yearning in "Everything's Gone" and pain expressed with "Hurts So Bad" illustrate she's come a long way in expressing universal emotions.