Lydia Loveless: Real (Bloodshot) - Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, May 30th, 2020  

Lydia Loveless



Sep 23, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Over the course of her four albums, 25-year-old Lydia Loveless has undergone a metamorphosis. After the fairly traditional, albeit rambunctious, alt-country of her debut, Loveless came into her own with 2011's Indestructible Machine, a raucous, rabble-rousing country-punk album filled with drinking, debauchery, and an indomitable firebrand spirit. Two years later, Somewhere Else found Loveless matured, for lack of a better term. The wild ways of Indestructible Machine had been tempered, the sharp edges smoothed, with Loveless even approaching Stevie Nicks territory on the title track.

What one notices first on Loveless's fourth album, ReaI, is the voice, that yearning twang filled with a longing that bleeds into the music on the first two tracks, the resigned plea "Same to You," and "Longer," which finds her begging to herself, "Give me just a little longer to get over you." Following this one two punch, "More Than Ever" is as beautiful a ballad as Loveless has ever recorded, and she's recorded some heart-wrenchers.

But after this opening trio, things veer in a very different direction, almost jarringly, with the surprisingly 1980s-styled "Heaven." It's enough to make one feel they're listening to a different album. "Out on Love" is a ballad that accentuates Loveless' soaring vocals but suffers from some twitching background effects. And "Midwestern Guys," despite some choice lyrical single entendre, sounds something like Indestructible Machine-lite with Fleetwood Mac-esque keys.

Then, with Real's seventh song, something happens. Loveless seems to settle in and find her sweet spot. The aching "Bilbao" deftly navigates the plethora of emotions that come with loving and longing, while confronting expectation, resignation, sentiment, and wishful thinking. It's introspection so insightful, a portrait so emotionally complex, rendered beautifully with Loveless' pristine voice, that one can listen 100 times and continue to be impressed.

The cheeky come-on, "European," is all loping country guitar and playful lyrics, beginning with the saucy couplet, "There's a light on in your attic. I can see it, and it flashes for a dirty voyeur like me." And by the time the album ends two tracks later with the title cut, it feels like a triumph. It sounds like Loveless has found herself, somewhere between traditional country and '70s pop rock, delivered with salacious grit and emotional gravity to spare. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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