At a moment where we might have gone full circle and need to start reminding people about “real country music” again, it’s a simple pleasure indeed to hear uptempo roots tunes like this diminutive Columbus, Ohio, singer doles out. And it’s not coming from an older also-ran who had to “rediscover” such simplicity. Lydia Loveless is a 20-something whose weathered motorcycle boots and wrinkled flower dresses almost mock the unsure look in her eyes and the strength of her pipes. If you’ve longed to hear a slightly southern drawling dame complaining about men while squinting at a poppier horizon without having to drop in sorority girl accents or desperate, laughable references to rappers, this might be the gal for you.
Not unlike Bloodshot Records’ solid stable of traditionalists, Loveless adds a slight underpinning of north of the Mason/Dixon line collegiate wiles via consistent relationship double-checks. Like in Boy Crazy, where Loveless croons, “I wish I was his wife / Not really, though.” Or in the funny Lovers’s Spat, where the details of a cops-called squabble are spot on. But then in the very first song, before all that half-baked bravado, Loveless asks herself, “When did I become so boring and alone?”
It’s classic country barroom ruminating with a Millennial insecurity edge that can turn selfie-assured in a minute and back again. Maybe it’s because Loveless has grown up near a huge college town. Believe me, dealing with the hoots from drunks after an Ohio State-Michigan game will harden and depress a lady just as much as a rodeo crowd.
So yes, this is straight-up stuff that wouldn’t know an Auto-Tuner or a Macy’s perfume licensing deal if it slid a Pabst down the bar towards it. But the songs here are so buoyant and freshly delivered (twangy gee-tar doesn’t even step up until the last tune here), that they might just go over to a wider, younger audience given some tweaks, if that’s what’s important to Loveless. Though from her self-effacing live show and commitment to family members in the band, a convinceingly nonchalant blue streak, to sticking around Columbus instead of moving to Nashville (which is really a better idea for indie rockers or real estate speculators these days), it seems she’s feeling alright just where she is.