Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The first inclination is to think that Lydia Loveless is a thousand-percent bad. It's to believe that she's got all kinds of problems, or that she's surrounded herself with all sorts of problematic men - men that are turning her this way. They've treated her badly and for a while, she may have put up with it, been wrecked by them, but she's since snapped and she's not going to allow any of it anymore. She's in charge and she's got spurs on the back of her boots. She's got spurs along the sides of her tongue and at the corners of her eyes as well. She walks around and you hear them cling, making the sound that you'd hear if you combined a jingle bell and two knives being sharpened on one another. She stomps the dust right out of the ground and you get a good sense that she could drink nearly anyone under the table, even though she's just a cool, 21 years old. You get the feeling that she's not a new drinker, but has been practicing for a long, long time, maybe even in her daddy's country and western honkytonk in small-town Ohio where she grew up. She may have been sneaking sips and chugs as a younger girl, imbibing the sorrow that was sewn into the music she heard in that joint. She sings, "Being good is killing me inside," and it makes sense that she can't stand that inner death happening so she changes it. She shuffles the deck and makes sure that she's not going to get beat down much more than she can take, or much more than she can handle. For being so young, Loveless has already honed a sassiness, a sexiness and the sharpest of personalities as a woman and as a songwriter. She's salty and she's willing to get into the details, never pulling punches, but singing it the way that it needs to be sung. Her sorry stories about the bullshit that happens to her over and over need to come out with the piss in them, with the he momentary lapses in decorum or ladylike behavior. They need to come out unabridged and with all of the scrapes and smears, the markings and the black eyes, or the black eyes just waiting to happen. Some of the songs on "The Only Man" and "Indestructible Machine," sound like there have been some fully powered slaps flush across the cheek and there have been some kicks to the balls. She sings about the affairs of man and woman in the way that they really are - often very unromantic. She gives us some of these farewells and some of the spicy interludes the way we never get to see them unless they're happening to us for real. They are blunt and the cut to the chase. They are stories that male songwriters would pretty up, but Loveless would be the first to admit that she'd never pussy out like that. She hits us with it all and it leaves that sweet sting, all while still settling in like something that used to be written and played all the time in old Nashville.