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Lydia Loveless's "Somewhere Else" Reviewed

Her aim is true

Her aim is true

This isn’t the big break through everybody claims it is.

Last year’s “Boy Crazy” was the breakthrough everybody claims it was.

Before that Lydia sounded like Li’l Mo and the Monicats for beginners; Lydia got country but she didn’t have the band or the bottle to pull it off. Last years five song EP lead by the epic title track Boy Crazy changed that, Loveless found her inner Heartbreakers with a classic rock buzz and a full throttled vocal attack. And while, yes, the same could be said about “Bad Way To Go”, the opening track of 2012’s Indestructible Machine, the rest of the IM album got very twangy and anyway, “Boy Crazy” sounds like something even better: a real, you know, rock and roll band.

So when Somewhere Else dropped two weeks ago we expected it to be major, we expected to find Lydia Navigating areas between country and rock. And we got that. But we also got one of the best albums about the emotional politics of sex since Liz Phair was regretting being 5’2″. The truth is where Somewhere Else is better than Indestructible Machine, it isn’t that much better, but rather it sounds like a unique vision: it fits like an album of sex and turmoil that is so of a piece. it emerges as that rarest of things: a fully formed artistic vision. Any way you cook it, “Bad Way To Go” is better than “Somewhere Else” but “Somewhere Else” is like an open door and “Bad Way To Go” leads to another generic stomper.

This album is  typified (maybe I mean exemplified) by the mid album”Head” with its descending notes and heavy finger plucked riff and Loveless drawl getting down to business, another girl leaving another guy alone in his bed “the sooner I go, the sooner you can dream” she says before kicking it into gear on the chorus, “don’t stop giving me head” she pleads. And if that doesn’t grab you, “Really Wanna See You Again” with Lydia at a party, coked up and drunk phoning her now married ex should make you wonder if there isn’t a little of the Adele about her. On song after song, Lydia lives up to her last name and these stories of sexual uh-ohs and heartbreaks become all of a piece, with the Kirsty aAcColl song to end it more like a day dream than a last bow.

There are  three other songs of “Head”  caliber and if there is no filler surrounding them, the rest of the album isn’t quite as strong as it needs to and the reason it doesn’t sink is that in context the songs retain their force. “Wine Lips” has an iffy chorus and a great verse but it doesn’t matter and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with “Chris Isaak” the other name with real people “Verlaine Shot Rimbaud” doesn’t pay off the twitty title.

Those are complaints but the album feels like a real experience, it feels all of a piece and when heard as a piece it all works well, it all becomes the story of a misplaced romantic whose twang is so deep it will soon disappear and whose romantic disillusionment is worthy of early Elvis Costello (she covered “Alison” back in the day), Lydia keeps taking off her party dress and writing about it.

Grade: A-

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