Bloodshot Records has proven to be a homegrown powerhouse for dynamic female singer-songwriters with fire in their hearts and trouble in mind. That reputation is undiminished by the arrival of Lydia Loveless on the label. The 21-year-old daughter of Coshocton, Ohio, belts it out with passion and urgency, unafraid to expose herself yet scarcely playing the victim.
Even when she’s going at it with an ex-lover, taking the measure of her own flaws, she sounds utterly defiant and brutally candid. She also has a crazy, practically Dylanesque, way of cramming an ungainly batch of words into a line. The choogling backup, twanging pedal steel guitar and open-throated vocals sell every last syllable in the anthemic breakup song “More Like Them”: “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 is ideal for crowded bar rooms, although we hope Loveless—her real surname, by the way—takes a moment to showcase her pipes amid less ruckus. There’s a lot of raw beauty there.