A few weeks back, I discovered this fabulous new to me voice from a Spin magazine article. I'd never heard of Lydia Loveless, and since I am not a fan of anything in today's music world laden with the "country" music label I was a bit hesitant. I generally avoid "country" if at all possible, even when it's touted as edgy. It's best. Yet, I listened, and listened, and listened to To Love Somebody. Here was this damned cool song kicking me in the shins, begging me to love somebody, begging me to love it, silently stalking me.
To Love Somebody blew me away with that bright voice, so big and commanding, with a great alt-country vibe and just enough smoky barroom honky tonk sounds to suit my tastes. I've been listening to the whole album for a week now, here's my review.
If Paul Westerberg wore a dress, his name would be Lydia Loveless. Just like Paul, Lydia has an innate ability to self observe and report, but is also seemingly powerless to change -- working out their failures with a pen, paper and a guitar pick. On Somewhere Else, Lydia Loveless wipes that sugary sweet modern day country music sound away with a broken wine bottle. With that drunken toss, she reminds us of country music's destructive "piss and vinegar" past, and how it was a soundtrack for so many hard living hopeless fuck-ups.
Self deprecating, wry, honest after a few drinks, and full of drink fueled hopelessness, Lydia launches herself into these songs, letting us all see the wound, self immolating only to rise up as her amp is plugged in. She buries past loves, but not before a quick verbal skewer, and for now, one last late night tease, or hook up, depends on who's blabbing. She's an old soul, struggling to shed the youthful rights to idiocy, yet enjoying the pain in the game. Life is messy, and in the end, she's just asking the same questions as us: What is love, and how do we stay in love?
To Love Somebody and Verlaine Shot Rimbaud are the stars of the album. But there isn't a bad song in the lot, Really Want To See You, Wine Lips, Chris Isaak, and Everything's Gone all beg for repeated plays; and while the last track on the album, They Don't Know, seems a bit out of place with her rocking confessionals, it's hard to fault her for the choice, it's hopeful and that's what keeps us alive.
For more information on Lydia and her music: