Lydia Loveless – Indestructible Machine
I’m not sure if Lydia Loveless is talking about a tough-ass pickup truck, her guitar or her heart when she calls her new album Indestructible Machine. Any could apply. Given the tone of these nine songs balled up into a punchy 38 minutes, though, the logical guess would be the body’s largest muscle, which the 21-year-old singer-songwriter uses to beat the daylights out of any loser that messes with her – and even, to a fiercely candid degree – herself, although perhaps that’s just more a case of honest self-knowing.
The latest dynamic siren to come roaring out of Bloodshot Records with fire in her belly and trouble in mind, the reckless daughter of Choshocton, Ohio belts it out with passion and urgency. Even when she’s going at it with an ex-lover, taking the measure of her own flaws, she sounds utterly defiant. She also has a crazy, practically Dylanesque, way of cramming an ungainly batch of words into a line, whipping her upper register into a syllable-smashing cyclotron that transmits a hair-raising electric charge over her band’s punk-rock simple choogle and twang. Open-throated emotion sells every word in the anthemic breakup song “More Like Them,” sung from the perspective of a girl home alone on Saturday night, guzzling wine and wearing her anti-social tendencies like a badge of honor that’s not nearly enough band-aid for her raw hurt:
Why can’t I be more like them?
The kind of people who can still manage to get upset
Well, if you think I’m so fucking emotionally dense
It’s ‘cuz I am
The pace is consistent on Indestructible Machine, her second album, which rarely lets its foot off the “bad-ass” pedal as the singer fantasizes about her hero in “Steve Earle” (“He says he isn’t hitting on me/ He just wants to write some songs”), rationalizes a bad hangover (“Jesus Was a Wino”) and wails without apology about her wicked ways (“Can’t Change Me”).
The hard-driving honky-tonk garage sound and she-devil attitude makes Loveless a thrillbilly cousin to Those Darlins but also Bloodshot legends like Neko Case and Kelly Hogan. The fury and zeal makes the show, but she’s got a lot more tucked away in her shitkickers. When Loveless sets aside the ruckus and stakes her place with just a guitar strumming, she’s every bit as commanding. There’s a lot of raw beauty here.