Rumba Cafe, Columbus, OH
September 30, 2011
A couple of songs into Lydia Loveless’s album launch and it’s difficult to tell where Lydia the singer ends and Lydia the person begins. It’s simply hard to imagine a woman like this, barely in her twenties, and standing a little over five foot tall in her boots, could be so worldly and explosive. And yet, there she is, muttering a string of f-bombs during a song break because she can’t get her guitar tuned quite right. The attitude, the weathered, sarcastic smile. The edge. That’s pretty damn tough to fake.
Even tougher to fake is the music. Call shenanigans all you want on the girl’s rough-and-tumble subject matter, her music is pure throughout. Loveless’s voice glistens like Loretta Lynn, and powers forward like Neko Case. Her chord structures throughout the songs are simple and repetitious, but built underneath some expressive guitar and stand-up bass lines. A blend of genuine country music and power pop has surely been attempted in the past, but never over punk chords and lyrics about psycho ex-boyfriends and guzzling gasoline.
At the end of the evening, it’s hard to imagine Loveless being anyone but herself. Her silly banter with the band and the crowd in between songs keeps everything at familial levels despite venue shortcomings. The emotive looks of frustration and eventual satisfaction as she sings through deeply personal material. She even admits with timidity to being nervous thinking no one would show up, to a roar of applause from the audience. It’s this combination of personality and talent that makes Lydia so fascinating, and the transparent reality of it all drives it all home. The music world had better get ready for a little Columbus edge. Lydia Loveless is most certainly on her way.