Like me, Lydia Loveless lives in Columbus, where for years she had to endure fumbling interview questions (including from me) about her life story — growing up on a farm, playing rock ’n’ roll dive bars with her dad and sisters well before driving age, and spending most of her adolescence on the kind of hard living usually reserved for much older women. Those are the kinds of details that send writers’ heads spinning, so for the longest time her youth was the story. Even some of the coverage for her 2011 breakthrough Indestructible Machine focused less on her distinctively powerful songwriting than the colorful backstory that informed it. And if ever an album’s songwriting deserved full attention, it was Indestructible Machine, a shit-kicking compendium of raucous wit and canny introverted observations set on fire by Loveless’ sweetly biting vocals. It was easily one of my 10 favorite releases that year — a drinking album, a driving album, an album that made sitting in front of a computer feel a lot livelier than it ever has the right to feel.
Fortunately, Loveless is well into her twenties now, and the chatter lately has focused on the excellence of her recent Boy Crazy EP and her forthcoming third album. Next month she’ll release Somewhere Else, a record that affirms her major step forward last time was no fluke. 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. Case in point: Opening track “Really Wanna See You” blazes out of the gate with a burst of rollicking twang before settling into a steady foundation for a tuneful apology in such direct terms as “There were times I was such a bitch/ I can be so insensitive.” It’s a tale of emotional land mines going off, with drum fills to match — an example of a singer-songwriter in full control of her craft and a rock ’n’ roll band at the peak of its powers. Listen below.
Somewhere Else is out 2/18 via Bloodshot.