In the summer of 2022, when we were all trying to figure out how to feel comfortable being together in close proximity at indoor concerts, Lydia Loveless played an opening set for the Drive-By Truckers at the Masonic Hall in downtown Dayton. I don’t know the particulars, but it felt like a last-minute addition to the bill, maybe done as a favor to Loveless who was going through a rough period: she announced to the crowd that she just “broke up with my boyfriend, so all the songs tonight are going to be sad as fuck.” Half of her 8-song set, were from her last album, the independently released Daughter, which she played an electric guitar or piano solo. Loveless seemed a bit harried, acting as her own roadie, and probably would have benefitted from a side-player or two, and a soundman who bothered to pay attention, but in spite of obvious challenges, she was in good voice, and the mostly male, good ol’ boy audience held their fire, and she got through it in one piece. She lived to fight another day.
A few months over a year later, Loveless is back with Bloodshot Records, and has the support of co-producer Sean Sullivan, a solid backing band to fill out her songs, even though the opening and closing songs would have fit nicely into a solo performance. But, yes, as suggested last summer, Loveless is back in form, writing mostly sad, break up songs even as she suggests that Nothing’s Gonna Stand In My Way Again. On the album opener, “Song About You,” Loveless plays a simple guitar line, with lovely string embellishments, as she acknowledges that these kind of songs seem to be getting more difficult, even though it “used to be so easy to do.” The even quieter, piano ballad closes out the album, “Summerlong,” also benefitting from a warm orchestra, finds the singer hoping she’s ready to move on, but still thinking about the love lost even though “it feels wrong.”
The eight tracks that fill out the album, return to the familiar alt/country-rock that has been Loveless bread and butter through her 7 previous albums, although at this point she’s “broke and I need to pay the bills,” but she also feels the drive to “be somebody,” and declares that “all I can think about is sex and money,” the album’s third single. The first single, “Toothache,” trying to work out that physical pain, while equally paralyzed by her emotional “heartbreak.” On these two she gives the band a bit more musical punch to work with, and Sullivan draws solid performance from guitarists Jay Gasper and Todd May, bass by Mark Connor, drums by George Hondroulis, Jay Gonzalez on keys, organ and synths, with backing vocal support by Michelle Sullivan and some of the boys. While the songs here aren’t breaking any new ground musically, they are solid melodic bar rock, and tracks like “Poor Boy” and “Do the Right Thing” give the band a chance to shine, and for Loveless to sing her heart out.
Her album’s title comes from the song “Ghost,” about her plan to come back and haunt her old love. She even credits AI for the lyric, “I’d fall in love with a hurricane if I looked it in the eye,” and I have to admit that may be one of the better lines about toxic, co-dependent love I’ve heard in a while. While not the best song here, “French Restaurant,” may actually be the most fun. Loveless describes setting up her break-up in an expensive, fancy restaurant because it’s a better story than at some fast-food dive. At the end, she tosses off the line, “you can order whatever you want,” a sign that she’s far enough along in her grief to laugh about it.
Both emotionally and musically, Lydia Loveless has proven to be here for the long-haul, and Nothing’s Gonna Stand In My Way Again, finds her in solid form, ready for the next adventure, and the songs they will inspire.
“Toothache” / “Sex and Money” / “Poor Boy”
ARTISTS WITH SIMILAR FIRE
Lucinda Williams / Liz Phair / Brandi Carlile
- Buddy & Julie Miller: In The Throes [Album Review] - November 21, 2023
- Mike Adams At His Honest Weight: Guess For Thrills [Album Review] - November 16, 2023
- Slow Pulp: Yard [Album Review] - November 14, 2023