The sign of a good concert is when you want to listen to the album on the way home from the show. Such was the case Saturday with Columbus firebrand Lydia Loveless, whose Bloodshot Records debut, Indestructible Machine, came out last September. The record is all spit and fire, with drinking binges and crazy crushes discussed at equal length. Loveless' songwriting ability and knockout vocals make a compelling case for being hungover every day. At 21, she looks about 17, but her stories of hard living ring true. She's a ballbuster, not a sweetheart, and it's this forceful personality that carries the album.
Saturday at the Sunset, her "blast-it-to-the-back-of-the-room" vocals (as her label rightly describes) were in full force. Her Facebook lists both Loretta Lynn and Britney Spears as influences, and though there's not much sight of the latter, the worldly-wise, call-it-like-it-is persona of Lynn is evident in Loveless' songwriting. The strength of her abilities shines on songs like "Steve Earle," a tale of being stalked by the outlaw-country legend (when you'd much rather hear from his son). Hitting all the standouts from her album, she straddled the line between country and punk, backed by a drummer and bassist who could match her intensity and then some.
The acerbic personality on display when she last played the Sunset in December was somewhat toned down on Saturday (she did get in a few zingers, most notably "Jeffrey Dahmer is the only famous thing from Ohio," as she got ready to play a song inspired by the serial killer), but the performance was top-notch. Highlights included "Crazy," which gives Willie Nelson's song of the same title a run for its money with its rendering of a crush gone bad, and her no-holds-barred cover of Elvis Costello's "Alison."
The most exciting aspect of Loveless' career is her potential. A taste of what's to come was on display Saturday when she played a few presumably new songs accompanied only by her electric guitar. Whatever she does next, it's sure to be inspired. Time to get with the program, Seattle.