Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Lydia Loveless: "Somewhere Else" (album review)

It's hard to quantify why Lydia Loveless' music is so compelling.  The country singer doesn't have the catchiest tunes.  She isn't the best lyricist working today.  The arrangements aren't terribly innovative.

No, what sets Loveless apart are none of those things, rather the most intangible and hard-to-define trait: charm.  She simply oozes it.  Her forthcoming record, Somewhere Else, is dripping with it.

The record does kick off with a great country rock riff on "Really Wanna See You Again".

Quickly though, the album settles into a series of gritty, raggedly twangy cuts.  "Wine Lips" and "Hurt So Bad" are among those that could serve as templates for how to write a mid-tempo alternative country track.

Vocally, Loveless is beginning to sound more and more like Lucinda Williams.  She's got a raspy quality, when required, that lends a powerful emotional aspect to her songs.  On "To Love Somebody", she opens up, adding a powerful defiant quality to her voice.

Loveless continues her series of songs inspired by (or at least named after) musicians.  "Chris Isaak" is far less sharp-tongued as last album's "Steve Earle", but furthers the theme of interacting with your idols.

The sharpest hooks on the album come courtesy of a cover song.  The countrified version of Kristy MacColl's (later Tracey Ullman's) "They Don't Know" is a warm-hearted standout.

Somewhere Else isn't going to make you rethink your entire opinion on music, but if you want something solid that comes with no surprises and no nonsense, then this record is a great fit.

Best tracks: "Wine Lips", "They Don't Know"

Track listing for Somewhere Else:
  • Really Wanna See You Again
  • Wine Lips
  • Chris Isaak
  • To Love Somebody
  • Hurts So Bad
  • Head
  • Verlaine Shot Rimbaud
  • Somewhere Else
  • Everything's Gone
  • They Don't Know

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