Review: Lydia Loveless – Real (2016)

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Lydia Loveless - 'Real' (2016)

Lydia Loveless - 'Real' (2016)I was stunned to learn that Lydia LovelessReal is actually her fourth full-length album. Given the buzz of her preceding 2014 album Somewhere Else, I thought there would be a societal mainstream break out party for this supposed sophomore effort. I was only somewhat right.

Loveless filmed her first official music videos. She performed on network television. She is currently touring to support Drive-By Truckers. And she’s the subject of her own documentary. The latter isn’t VH1’s Behind the Music so I think it’s safe to assume the road is more ahead of her than behind.

Loveless doesn’t pull any tricks on Real, which makes it all the more engaging. Real a relatively straightforward alt-country album in the spirit of the aforementioned Drive-By Truckers with the requisite themes of love, heartbreak and more heartbreak, but what stands out is a remarkable vulnerability that permeates through almost every song.

Loveless’ laments on “Bilbao” are excruciating with a lyric repeating so many times you’d think there was absolutely no hope left (“Marry me / There’s nowhere in the world that I would rather be”). “Longer” is more upbeat, but more in the 90s pop rock sort of way rather than the fantastic happy ending everyone wishes. And “Clumps” is a stripped-down acoustic affair that aches and breaks (“See you on the other side / Oh my god, you make me feel alive”).

The smooth disco-tinged vibes of “Heaven” are quite refreshing, as they reveal another level to Loveless’ sensibilities beyond what she’d done before. She defies tradition and boundaries: “And we could stay together / But paradise is only for the weakling / No one goes to heaven.”

Real is generally considered to be Loveless’ poppiest album yet, which she doesn’t necessarily apologize for. “Yeah, I think the songs just kind of direct themselves for me,” Loveless stated in an interview last month with OnMilwaukee.com. “It’s not like I was going for poppy or slicker; it’s just that that’s where we were at the time.

“And I don’t think pop is a dirty word at all either.”

Track List

  1. Same to You
  2. Longer
  3. More Than Ever
  4. Heaven
  5. Out On Love
  6. Midwestern Guys
  7. Bilbao
  8. European
  9. Clumps
  10. Real

NOTE: Article originally published on Blogcritics.

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