A Real Straight-Shooter

Lydia Loveless will play at Lee’s Liquor Lounge tomorrow night.

by Sarah Harper

What: Lydia Loveless with Jezebel Jones and Her Wicked Ways and Jennifer Markey

When: 9 p.m., Friday 

Where: LeeâÄôs Liquor Lounge, 101 Glenwood Ave., Minneapolis

Cost: $8

Age: 21+

After hearing her lyrics, you might wonder where Lydia Loveless gets her brashly bodacious attitude from. Look no further than her upbringing. Raised in Coshocton, Ohio by a self-sufficient musical family, Loveless never learned how to care about what other people thought of her.

âÄúWe lived on a farm, and we werenâÄôt really in the world very much. We raised our own food and did our own thing, so we didnâÄôt have to worry about other people and fitting into society,âÄù Loveless said.

In addition to setting her up with a hardcore âÄòtude, the Lovelesses (no relation to Patty) introduced Loveless to the world of music. Playing in her sisterâÄôs band, Loveless learned how to write bass lines.

âÄúIâÄôve never really had lessons. IâÄôve just read books and fumbled along. IâÄôve learned instruments by writing songs with them,âÄù Loveless said.

Now 21, Loveless is playing guitar and singing on a tour for her second album, âÄúIndestructible Machine.âÄù Backing her up are her drummer dad, Parker Chandler, and her bassist husband, Benjamin Lamb.But donâÄôt saddle her with the family band label. Loveless is a highly independent musician who rejects the conservative conventions of church-friendly country pop, layering shreds of rock âÄònâÄô roll and punk with lyrics that sound like they were pulled straight off of a bathroom wall.

âÄúI donâÄôt want to listen to music that sounds like it was written for somebodyâÄôs grandma,âÄù Loveless said.

And she doesnâÄôt like to make it either. She swears. She sings about getting drunk. And she belts like sheâÄôs never been told to be quiet.

âÄúI just play what IâÄôve been through,âÄù Loveless said.

Her first album, âÄúThe Only Man,âÄù suggests that sheâÄôs been through her share of booze-drinkinâÄô and heart-breakinâÄô nights. On her song âÄúPaid,âÄù Loveless sings, âÄúAnd you might be getting me drunk / but this conversation really sucks / And for some inexplicable reason / you think weâÄôre going to go home and [expletive].âÄù

Her sophomore effort gives the same middle finger to tradition, featuring songs with titles like, âÄúJesus Was a Wino,âÄù and lyrics like, âÄúI talk so much [expletive] / I forget who IâÄôm talkinâÄô to.âÄù

But âÄúIndestructible MachineâÄù sounds more like her live performances than her first album did.

âÄúIâÄôm definitely more comfortable with selling that at shows and telling people that itâÄôs the same thing,âÄù Loveless said.

And Loveless still hasnâÄôt succumbed to any fancy songwriting tricks âÄî you wonâÄôt trip on any oblique phrasing or undue symbolism on âÄúIndestructible Machine.âÄù

âÄúI donâÄôt like stuff thatâÄôs restrained and holding back and trying to use weird metaphors,âÄù Loveless said.âÄúPeople either relate to that or they say, like, âÄòSheâÄôs trying to be depressed or an alcoholic.âÄô ItâÄôs really weird to read that IâÄôm trying to go for something when IâÄôm really just trying to be totally honest, which I think is what normal people relate to.âÄù

A young female singer who bounces between genres âÄî who does that sound like? Oh right, Taylor Swift. Loveless said that people often call her the âÄúanti-Swift.âÄù But she would rather not be associated with the teen pop queen at all.

âÄúI donâÄôt think I fit in with many people because I sort of write like a man would, but IâÄôm a chick,âÄù Loveless said, referring to her unedited, unabashed sound.

Loveless feels more comfortable being compared to country legend Lucinda Williams, but who doesnâÄôt? The comparison is only somewhat apt: Loveless takes after WilliamsâÄô songwriting with lyrics as strong as a storm cellar, but she avoids weaving complicated literary webs like Williams, the daughter of a poet and literature professor, did.

A better singer to link Loveless to is the legendary Loretta Lynn:  the coal minerâÄôs daughterâÄôs organic swagger is much more in line with LovelessâÄô tell-it-like-it-is approach (see: LynnâÄôs hit, âÄúDonâÄôt Come Home A-DrinkinâÄô.âÄù)

âÄúI get all my lyrics from things I write in my journals,âÄù said Loveless, whose writing aspirations arenâÄôt just musical âÄî she wants to write essays like David Sedaris.

For now, audiences dig that Loveless is making the âÄúrealâÄù country they crave by speaking to their anxieties and sympathizing with their less savory experiences.

âÄúLife is hard if youâÄôre a real person. I think the average person can relate to something about being depressed or being drunk or screwing up your life, because I think most people have been there,âÄù Loveless said.