Lydia Loveless — Indestructible Machine
Out September 13 on Bloodshot Records
Lydia Loveless may have a serious drinking problem. The 1990 born singer would “rather stay home and drink gallons of wine” (“More Like Them”) than go to the party, and later on her new album “Indestructible Machine” she claims, “I grew up on whiskey and God, so I’m a little bit confused” (“Do Right”).
It seems that Lydia Loveless has no aspirations beyond playing the quintessential country bad girl, which is a shame considering her vocal talent suggests that she’s capable of so much more. When she’s not leaning too hard on the banal country-rock backing band, Loveless’ howl demands attention. She is a stunning talent who is seemingly too aware of her genre’s rules to really break the mold.
It comes as no surprise that this collection of songs began as an EP follow up to the songwriter’s first album. At just nine songs long the album still manages to include filler. “How Many Women” is a litany of cliches: “How many women does a man need? How many does it take to make him happy? / How many hearts will he break? How much time will he take?” Et cetera.
The organization of the songs lends itself to boredom. Loveless blew it by putting the best two songs at the very start of the album, setting a high bar that she doesn’t hit again. “Jesus Was a Wino” and “Steve Earle” rely on the jokes and the singer’s strengths as a scorching vocalist are put on the back burner for an unfortunate mid-album stretch.
Before “Indestructible Machine” is over she’s already rehashing the first half. When on the album’s closer “Crazy” she sings, “I just don’t know how I’m gonna face being sober” Loveless has achieved the overkill. Lydia Loveless isn’t saying anything you haven’t already heard from a near-century of country music. Any appeal this record holds for the listener is all in the moments of spectacular vocal delivery.
Meg Baird – Seasons on Earth
Out September 20 on Drag City Records
Meg Baird’s new album “Seasons on Earth” feels more like an organic musical moment than a collection of individual songs. Fans of whimsical freak-folk or dream pop will probably find themselves getting lost in the ethereal acoustic guitar music of this album.
The spidery delicacy of Baird’s acoustic guitar picking patterns is a constant anchor for the album. Around it, slide guitar, piano and whispering vocals weave in and out of the flickering picture. These other instrumental elements serve the songs overall, and do not call too much attention to themselves. No one is taking a solo on this album.
The overall mood is absolutely a sleepy one. That is not to say that these songs are boring. They are intricate and alluring and the sounds of unprocessed strings feels very immediate. This would be a good album to put on while falling asleep.
There is no obvious stand-out single of a song, but she creates a very specific space and stays there, feeling out the album’s sounds through Seasons on Earth’s ten songs (clocking in at just under an hour.)
No, “Beatles and the Stones” doesn’t sound like the Beatles or the Stones. It sounds kind of like “Babyon,” “Stars Climb Up the Vine,” “Share” and “Even Rain”. The song “Share” may as well be called “10:03,” which is to say that if you’re going to listen to this album it will likely be as a whole.
On “Friends” Baird sings “One day maybe I’ll buy myself an island and there with my friends you know I’d stay.” This may illustrate the best way to enjoy “Seasons on Earth.” You have to go away with it for a little bit.
In other words, you know what you like because you like what you know. Talk about not breaking the rules? Where’s your objectivity? It’s apparent you just don’t like Loveless’ style. That’s not a critique, that’s a confession of your unwillingness to think outside of your own four walls.