Review: Lydia Loveless Leaves No Room for Uncertainty on New Album

4 out of 5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

Lydia Loveless… indie rocker? That’s the direction the rootsy singer/songwriter has headed since her well-received 2011 Bloodshot debut. It introduced a hard-nosed young twang artist with enough attitude to name a song “Steve Earle.”

But that was a long time ago. The past dozen years found Loveless abandoning those influences, heading into a tough but often musically tender swagger. Even before her 2016 album Real, Loveless took a reflective stance, mirrored by featuring ballads and slower songs. 

Loveless self-released her 2020 project Daughter on her own idiosyncratically named Honey, You’re Gonna Be Late label, for a sound similar to that of Neko Case, whose deeper, emotive voice is comparable to her. 


In the three years since, Loveless relocated from North Carolina to her home area of Columbus, Ohio, got divorced, and returned with an album sporting a defiant title that leaves no room for uncertainty. 

On “Sex and Money,” she sings Gotta make a living but I just don’t have the will to live anymore over a thick, bass-heavy beat as guitars crank a mid-tempo hook and ooo-oohsinfuse a touch of retro sing-along rebutting those unmitigated lyrics. 

Loveless has an immediately identifiable voice which she uses to prod at topics around personal insecurities others might retreat from. That goes for suicidal thoughts too, as she sings in “Runaway.” Every time I drive on the highway I wanna jerk the wheel to the right / Every time I’m on this sidewalk I wanna step into the road.

Musically, this shifts from piano-based ballads (with strings) on the closing, meditative “Summerlong” and the psychedelic wanderings of “Ghost” to the ringing, Byrds-influenced radio-ready “Do the Right Thing” and the gutsy “Toothache.” The latter combines a thundering melody with internal frustration expressed. 

Loveless may have left the twang behind, but returns with one of the most powerful, moving and musically sophisticated offerings in a career that is clearly still growing despite, or perhaps because of, any self-doubts.  

Photo by Jillian Clark

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