Lydia Loveless is an excellent artist about the nature of longing, the way it can pull you down and threaten to smother you or awaken you to new possibilities for connection and emotional satisfaction.— NPR Fresh Air
Loveless loves the gutters of life, if only because she knows that’s where the greatest songs are.— Pitchfork
Lydia is the only singer/songwriter the power of whose music and voice consistently makes me cry.— Richard Hell
She’s a master storyteller with a voice that goes down like honey and lyrics that bite like a hangover.— Paste Magazine
Loveless has carved out an unmistakable voice as a songwriter, and she's only getting better at using it to blur the line between running her mouth and pouring out her heart.— Stereogum
Sounds Like: Loretta Lynn and Patti Smith slamming shots at a Midwestern dive bar while cowboys and punks brawl out back……her breakout album Somewhere Else is an aching, lusty set of twang and sneer wrapped in electric guitar swagger.— Rolling Stone
Somewhere Else [is] both a bracing and a deeply harrowing listen.— Pitchfork
Love this woman. Love her. Is "Stevie Nicks singing lead on 'Born to Run'" overstating it? Probably, but too bad.— SPIN
Real was recorded at Sonic Lounge Studios on Lydia's home turf of Columbus, OH and was engineered and produced by Joe Viers. “I chose to work with Joe Viers, engineer and producer of my last three releases, again because I trust him completely not only with my music but with my words,” Lydia said. “There was a lot to say this time around and I wanted to return to that sort of playground and (sometimes literally) throw things at the wall. Whereas our previous records could be described as blunt or raw, this one I wanted to be known as honest, as true, as real (rimshot),” she added.
Real is one of those exciting records where you sense an artist truly hitting their stride, that their vision is both focused and expansive, and that their talent brims with a confident sense of place, execution and exploration. Whether you've followed Lydia's career forever, like us, or if you are new to her ample game, Real is gonna grab your ears.
On her first two Bloodshot full-length releases (2014's Somewhere Else and 2011's Indestructible Machine) there were fevered comparisons to acknowledged music icons like Loretta Lynn, Stevie Nicks, Replacements, and more: She's half this, half that, one part something else. We hate math. But, now Real and Lydia Loveless are reference points of their own. Genre-agnostic, Lydia and her road-tightened band pull and tease and stretch from soaring, singalong pop gems, roots around the edges to proto-punk. There are many sources, but the album creates a sonic center of gravity all its own. Song to song, moment to moment, you may find yourself thinking "that could be..." or "there are moments of..." but you are quickly transported away to another moment, another thought, another sound, another shot at honesty.
Always a gifted writer, Lydia gives the full and sometimes terrifying, sometimes ecstatic force of the word "real." Struggles between balance and outburst, infectious choruses fronting emotional torment are sung with a sneer, a spit, or a tenderness and openness that is both intensely personal and relatably universal It is, as the title suggests, real.
But what is "real"?
In the hands of a performer like Lydia, however, it is cast to almost Plantonic depths:"We refer only to things fully formed and everlasting as "real". If a marriage ends it was "fake" and everything was a "lie". We ask if quickly made up tunes are "real songs". The veil of depression causes to wonder if we're real people, feeling discarded, sitting at the kid's table. Am I real even if I stayed in bed all day? Is love real even when it's over or goes entirely unfulfilled? Are we real after we die, even if no one remembers us? Or is anything temporary merely a fake, a phony, a stand in. I was thinking about this a lot when I was writing these songs. What makes someone, even someone lacking the confident to show their true selves a "real" authentic person.
When I strip away my vices who am I really. Am I only myself when I'm dancing on a table and making the most vulgar of wisecracks, even though I hate that person, it gets a rise out of myself. The party monkey side. But the side with any amount of grace is often met with concern or disdain. Who are you really, at the end of the day, entirely alone, without all the daydreams and the bullshit and the performance art we go through all day every day, even non performers or as we call them, "normal" peopleBecause I feel like I spent my formative years flopping around like a fish, masking pain with substance abuse and somewhat ashamed of who I was—a hayseed, a phony, I felt—it was absolutely necessary for me to become a stronger, more confident human, or I was going to die. Real is my sort of love letter to that realization, that my existence was just as valid as any other.”
Loveless is joined on the album by Todd May (vocals, guitars, keys), Ben Lamb (bass), Jay Gasper (guitars, pedal steel, keys), George Hondroulis (drums, percussion, keys), Andy Harrison (guitar, keys) and Viers (percussion, guitar).
Blessed with a commanding, blast-it-to-the-back-of-the-room voice, Lydia Loveless was raised on a family farm in Coshocton, Ohio—a small weird town with nothing to do but make music. With a dad who owned a country music bar, Loveless often woke up with a house full of touring musicians scattered on couches and floors. She has turned this potential nightmare scenario (eww....touring musicians smell...) into a wellspring of creativity.
When she got older, in the time-honored traditions of teenage rebellion, she turned her back on these roots, moved to the city (Columbus, OH) and immersed herself in the punk scene, soaking up the musical and attitudinal influences of everyone from Charles Bukowski to Richard Hell to Hank III.
Loveless's Bloodshot debut album Indestructible Machine combined heady doses of punk rock energy and candor with the country classicism she was raised on and just can’t shake; it was a gutsy and unvarnished mash-up. It channeled ground zero-era Old 97s (with whom she later toured) but the underlying bruised vulnerability came across like Neko Case’s tuff little sister. Indestructible Machine possesses a snotty irreverence and lyrical brashness that’s an irresistible kick in the pants.
On her second Bloodshot album Somewhere Else, released after a few 7" singles and an EP, Loveless was less concerned with chasing approval – she scrapped an entire album’s worth of material before writing the set – and more focused on fighting personal battles of longing and heartbreak, and the aesthetic that comes along with them. While her previous album was described as “hillbilly punk with a honky-tonk heart” (Uncut), this one couldn’t be so quickly shoehorned into neat categorical cubbyholes. No, things were different this time around—Loveless and her band collectively dismissed the genre blinders and sonic boundaries that came from playing it from a safe, familiar place. Creatively speaking, if Indestructible Machine was an all-night bender, Somewhere Else was the forlorn twilight of the next day, when that creeping nostalgia has you looking back for someone, something, or just... anything.
2016's Real is one of those exciting records where you sense an artist truly hitting their stride, that their vision is both focused and expansive, and that their talent brims with a confident sense of place, execution and exploration. Whether you've followed Lydia's career forever, like us, or if you are new to her ample game, Real is gonna grab your ears.
On her first two Bloodshot albums, there were fevered comparisons to acknowledged music icons like Loretta Lynn, Stevie Nicks, Replacements, and more. She's half this, half that, one part something else. We hate math. But, now Real and Lydia Loveless are reference points of their own. Genre-agnostic, Lydia and her road-tightened band pull and tease and stretch from soaring, singalong pop gems, roots around the edges to proto-punk. There are many sources, but the album creates a sonic center of gravity all its own.
Always a gifted writer with a lot to say, Lydia gives the full and sometimes terrifying, sometimes ecstatic force of the word. Struggles between balance and outburst, infectious choruses fronting emotional torment are sung with a sneer, a spit, or a tenderness and openness that is both intensely personal and universally relatable. It is, as the title suggests, real.
Lydia Loveless has toured with artists such as Old 97's, Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell, Iron & Wine, Scott H. Biram, and the Supersuckers. Her music has been praised by Rolling Stone, NPR, Pitchfork, SPIN, Stereogum, Chicago Tribune, and more.
Loveless penned an original song for the 2015 film I Smile Back, starring Sarah Silverman, and was the subject of the 2016 documentary Who Is Lydia Loveless?, directed by Gorman Bechard.
Official Website: Lydia Loveless Online