Real Real, Columbus, OH singer Lydia Loveless’s confident and poppy fourth album, builds on 2014’s grittier Somewhere Else. But while that album sounded a bit like Wilco’s A.M. crossed with cow-punk Lucinda Williams, on Real, Loveless and her long-time producer Joe Viers embraced a Cars-ish retro pop sound. On top of Loveless’s usual gut- wrench, the songs for Real were written while Loveless and her husband, Ben Lamb (who also plays bass) were “going through a time.” One gets the sense of emotional hardship on songs like the melodic “More Than Ever” when Loveless belts, “your mistress is pounding harder on the door,” before following up with the quieter, “but I guess you don’t want to see her anymore.” She’s hurting, but no less rock’n’roll for it. On “Heaven,” Real’s big, super-produced, Talking Heads-ish funky faith-shaker, Loveless tackles her relationship with faith, while on “European,” Loveless compellingly gets into the head of a selfjustifying stalker. “Midwestern Guys,” perhaps Loveless’s answer to Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville, is a scathing, witty critique of a culture and time that goes back to the ’90s. For all of Real’s variety, the album’s quietest song, “Clumps,” demonstrates once again that despite her rollicking country rock, all Loveless needs is her flickering, torchy voice and a few steadily strummed chords to convey her hard fistfuls of truth. (Bloodshot, bloodshotrecords.com)
IS IT HARD TO WRITE SONGS ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR HUSBAND IN THE BAND?
No, that’s the easy part. The hard part is confronting your life as an actual human. As a songwriter I tend to be like, “I’ll write a song about it,” and then “there, those feelings are expressed.” I’m working on having discussions with people I’m having issues with as opposed to just, “Here’s a song, I feel so much better, how do you feel? Never mind!”
WHAT’S “MIDWESTERN GUYS” ABOUT?
The funny thing about that song is there’s a lost verse. [It] was actually where the song sparked from. The verse was about my husband’s half-brother who was doing drugs in a tree and fell out and died. [The song] is about the ’90s in rural Ohio, where we’re all from, guys just driving around drunk and crashing into trees. No one had any direction and everyone was very bored. It was kind of a poke at all the dudes that I know. SARAH GREENE
COUNTRY POP ▼