Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lydia Loveless -- Somewhere Else

As far as anyone should be concerned, it is time to crown Lydia Loveless as the Crown Princess of Country, Duchess of Broken Hearts, and Baroness of Torn Emotions. If you hadn't had a chance to listen to the songs that have been making their rounds on their interwebs, you'll realize these titles are richly deserved 30 seconds into the lead single, "To Love Somebody."

For me, the most interesting songs on here aren't the ones about heartbreak or regret or blow. It's the subtext of being young and flailing about and trying to find your sense of place: after all, that's what's at the heart of the other problems. Nothing illustrates that more than "Everything's Gone." While Loveless is a restrained singer, she practically sounds like a banshee on this way. The pain's just right there -- on the surface it's about Loveless realizing she'll never be able to reclaim her childhood home, but really it's the moment when you realize your childhood, and its physical reminders, are lost no matter what you do.  Maybe it's because I identify most strongly with this song, but I'd say it's the best on the album.

Finally, I'd like to do some meta-commentary on the song "Head." It's about exactly what you think it's about. I don't know if this was a marketing decision from Bloodshot or Lydia herself but pretty much every review of the album I can find talks about how "scandalous" and "racy" this song is. As my students would say, it's really not that serious. It's ultimately a song about a tawdry hookup (co-written by Adobe & Teardrops fave Todd May!)

Is it because it's about -- for once -- a woman receiving oral sex? Maybe a woman getting eaten out is old hat for me (ahem) but that's hardly the most titillating sex act to write a song about. (New songwriting challenge: a ballad in honor of the Cleveland Steamroller.) Or maybe it just says something about America's continued narrow-minded ideas of what sex is supposed to look like. (Gentlemen -- there are some things your Manly Gift simply cannot do. Trust the lesbian!)

But goddammit, it is far from the most noteworthy feature of this album. My professional peers should have been focused -- with laser-like precision -- on Loveless's panache, talent, and authenticity. Given the state of pop music today, that's what should be making us raise our eyebrows, sit up, and take note.

Lydia Loveless -- Official, Facebook, Purchase from Bloodshot Records, Stream on NPR

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