Review Summary: This powerful vocalist has a future, but doesn't create anything new
Picture Taylor Swift if she had dropped out of school, smoked cigarettes, and hung out with scrungy punks. If you can conjure up that strange image, you’d probably picture someone like Lydia Loveless.
Loveless, a 23 year old from Columbus, Ohio, was born into a country tradition but took some early cues from punk rock. You can hear the influence; the guitar sounds loud, and is as powerful as her voice. And her voice is strong. She can belt; she’s got that emotional warbly vibrato down pat, and at her best her pipes invoke some kind of emotional response.
What really drives the whole “anti Taylor Swift” thing down, though, is the frankness of her lyrics. Like Swift, she sings about heartbreak. She sings about being drunk. She sings about losing everything. Her lyrics, as she has said, are torn from her diary. But she doesn’t bull*** the listener into any easy answers. She isn’t afraid of the stereotypical southern belle image of perfection and perpetual heart break. Unlike Swift, she seems human.
In the album’s standout track, Head, Loveless sings about, well, not wanting to stop giving and receiving head. “Honey, don’t stop giving me head,” she sings. The track is raw, powerful, and is riddled with a brooding intensity that Swift couldn’t hold a candle too.
But the refreshingly frank lyrics and the powerful vocals are as good as the record gets. Unfortunately, most of the instrumentation is standard alt-country. There’s not a whole lot of variation; you have your twangy bits, and your soft bits, and all together you have a pretty standard country concoction. This is not the record that’s going to convince you to give country music a shot.
But, if you’re willing to give Loveless a chance, you may just find her to be the breath of fresh air that a tired Nashville needs. In Everything’s Gone, Loveless sings
“I need to go somewhere and lose my mind/ And please stop telling me to turn it down/ cis it ain’t that loud.” And in Somewhere Else, Loveless doesn’t turn it down. And hopefully she doesn’t ever turn it down.