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Lydia Loveless
Somewhere Else

Bloodshot Records

The reviewers are going to have a field day with this one: they’re going to call Lydia Loveless an alt-country princess or some such shit, or they’ll compare her to Neko Case or Lucinda Williams, or they’ll make all sorts of talk about that point where punk meets country.

In all cases they are dead wrong.

What Loveless proves on her latest album, Somewhere Else, is that she’s a fine songwriter, a superior singer and beyond the ghettoization of genre labels.

Somewhere Else is an excellent rock and roll album, period.

It comes tearing out of the gate with “Really Wanna See You,” the guitars giving way to Loveless’ plaintive, desirous lyrics. She’s got the right amount of weariness to her lyrics, and when the weariness mixes with the hard-driving drums and guitars you’re left feeling that you are a part of it, that she’s right and describing how it is. Somewhere Else then moves into the almost-barroom-weeper of “Wine Lips.” It’s pushes a bit harder than your classic Ray Price song, hell, a lot harder, but it’s got that sentiment, and Loveless’ voice shines. Here, as in each of the songs, she shows a deceptive power to her voice, carrying line after line of the song into each other over multiple bars, raising and lowering and cracking it in all the right ways the songs calls for. It is a powerful, assured voice and beautiful.

The album is full of suprises, the kind that bring you back again and again for repeated listenings: Jay Gasper’s gorgeous pedal steel playing, the turns of phrase in “Head” and “Verlaine Shot Rimbaud,” the groove Nik German and Ben Lamb build in “Hurts So Bad.” There’s plenty here to go on about because Somewhere Else is a textured, nuanced, finely crafted album without any pretense. It’s the mark of an artist in complete control of all her powers. The album closes with three of the finest songs on the album: the title track, “Everything’s Gone,” and “They Don’t Know.” This is just Loveless’ third full length release but they are full-bore proof that a great artist has risen up through the clutter and muck and is here to stay. And if you are like me and live in farm country and are watching those farms go under to subdivisions and strip malls, “Everything’s Gone” will serve as your rallying cry and battle flag. In it Loveless sings, “Please don’t take all the land away / ‘cause I need that now / I need to go somewhere and lose my mind / and please stop telling me to turn it down / ‘cause it ain’t that loud / and I haven’t felt like singing in a long long time.” And later in the song: “If I ever get back to where I live / well you can bet I’ll sleep out on anything / I’ll find a rich man’s house and burn it down / burn it down.”

Here then is a toast to honesty in rock and roll, fine songwriting, beautiful singing and a great record. Don’t miss it.

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