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Andy Whitman

Lydia Loveless - Indestructible Machine

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The kid's gonna be a star.

Lydia's from Columbus, and plays the local dives pretty frequently. She's a country kid with a big ol' twangy voice who loves punk, and you put that together and you've essentially got Neko Case fronting the Old 97's back when they would still kick up a shitstorm. Her debut album Indestructible Machine is out on Bloodshot Records in September. It's absolutely terrific -- sharp, funny, and irreverently snotty songwriting, huge vocal presence, and rumbling Stratocaster courtesy of one of my favorite guitarists, Todd May, who used to lead my second-favorite Columbus band, The Lilybandits. It's real good and real country punk rawk.

Edited by Andy Whitman

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I know it's not out yet, but this is by far my favorite country-ish album released so far this year, and in my top 2 or 3 of any album released this year. I love Neko Case's voice, and Lydia is a ringer for Neko, but my primary objection to Neko is that her songs aren't distinctive enough. Lydia's songs sock you in the gut, and don't let up. The lyrics are desperate when they're not hilarious, and the sonic assault is a wondrous thing -- a whole lot of overamped Stratocasters that remind me of Drive-By Truckers and early Old 97's. There's also this:

He won't stop callin' and I'm not sure how to blow him off

He stands outside my window until I have to call the cops

But they always let him out of jail because he's a famous face

That's a funny way of askin' me to go out on a date, Steve Earle

Steve Earle won't stop callin me

-- "Steve Earle"

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Looks like sounding to my taste. Thanks for reminding me. Some stuff to look for in September.

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I agree with everything Andy said. This album is a barnburner-- and yes, this gal really does sound a lot like a Neko Case, but with much stronger material. In fact, I'd say that this is not only a more memorable album than any of Neko's, but Loveless might actually be a more effective singer, if only because she's more willing to let go and go careening out of control when the mood strikes. A fine record-- from an artist who isn't even 21 yet!!

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I agree with everything Andy said. This album is a barnburner-- and yes, this gal really does sound a lot like a Neko Case, but with much stronger material. In fact, I'd say that this is not only a more memorable album than any of Neko's, but Loveless might actually be a more effective singer, if only because she's more willing to let go and go careening out of control when the mood strikes. A fine record-- from an artist who isn't even 21 yet!!

And she's my new neighbor. I just found out that she lives about two blocks away. I suspect there may be an interview in the works. That is, if she survives her 21st birthday blowout. I don't know how autobiographical her songs are. I'm hoping she's making it up.

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My review.

I reckon I ought feel some sense of unease at listening to hard-drinking, shit-talking songs of bawdy soul-searching and alcoholic abandon from a woman who has not yet reached the legal drinking age, much less the point at which this kind of profane stock-taking tends to be more acceptable. But the songs are just too good. Indestructible Machine is a late-night, barroom confessional, an awakening for a singer who’s been living like her body and heart are, in fact, indestructible machines, and is only beginning to realize that they’re not. There are nine songs here that are gussied up in a cussin’, fightin’, drinkin’ veneer, with just enough cracks to let the light of vulnerability shine through. They walk a fraying wire, strung between a honky-tonk and a punk rock dive.

And as for Loveless herself? Well, she’s something else altogether—a real live wire of a singer, someone whose voice could be a ringer for stalwart country women like Loretta Lynn did she not deploy it with such unself-conscious, punkish abandon. Instead, she comes across sounding an awful lot like Neko Case, only a Neko Case who’s fully willing to relinquish control and put all her frayed nerves on display. It takes very little imagination to believe she could flat-out belt these numbers like a juke joint diva, yet she’s no showboater. The first song, “Bad Way to Go,” opens with a fumble of banjo and electric guitar, the band sounding like they’ve careened off track before they even begin; the song hits a gallop, and Loveless comes in with a commanding presence, but never one that threatens to send the whole thing toppling.

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Josh, I'm impressed with your writing for this review. You're always been thoughtful, but now you're even getting the style of a real writer. Great work! :)

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The kid's gonna be a star.

No kidding! Wow is this a great album. It reminds me so much of Lone Justice's debut, striking just the right chord between traditional country sass and the torn and frayed edges of indie rock. Great recommendation.

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