Friday, April 4
If June Carter played in a rock band, there’s a good chance she’d sound like alt-country singer/songwriter Lydia Loveless, whose whiskey-soaked songs about heartbreak and vulnerability are rendered with a clear, visceral twang. More often, though, she’s compared to Neko Case.
“I’ve actually never met her,” Loveless says about the indie songstress who formerly released albums on Bloodshot, Loveless’ label. “I do like her music, but it’s not an influence.” She adds that the first album she ever bought was “Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time.”
Loveless, only 23, is actually 20 years Case’s junior. Her age comes up frequently, too. “So many people I admired growing up were men that were ageless and cool. For whatever reason, when you’re a woman, people want to hammer your age in. At least I’m not old,” she surmises. “I’m as old as I’ve ever been.”
Loveless’ songwriting, though, does have a streak of world-weariness. Her first release on Bloodshot, Indestructible Machine, was a hard-hitting alt-country rocker, and you need look no further than its cover art, featuring a young woman guzzling motor oil, for a good idea of the blast of spitfire it contains.
“I have a lot of time to sit around and make trouble for myself,” says Loveless, who grew up in rural Ohio. “My songs are based on that, with a creative twist. I know a lot of people with really screwed-up lives.”
The songwriter continues the narrative on her second Bloodshot release, Somewhere Else. Her voice registers as strong as ever—like a steel-winged songbird—but the record’s tone has softened some, working in more rock and pop themes and more polished production. “I’m just a more relaxed songwriter, more willing to weave in and out of different styles, better at playing guitar,” she says. “I’ve become a little more receptive to advice and direction . . . I did want it to be more put-together this time.”
On tour since performing at South by Southwest last month, Loveless says the biggest challenge of taking the act on the road is “trying not to eat at Denny’s all the time.” The biggest comfort, she adds, is traveling with her husband and bandmate, Ben Lamb: “It’s nice having someone around who will put up with you.” With the Tripwires, the Swearengens. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599, tractortavern.com. 9 p.m. $10.