Cowpunk Charmer Lydia Loveless Uses Time And Instincts To Get ‘Real’

There’s a saying people love to spit at you: Real recognize real. It’s a phrase about instincts more than anything else, even if instincts aren’t given a lot of play in 2016. Everyone wants proof and a way to measure; everybody’s trying to be on top, vying for an invisible place to land. But Lydia Loveless isn’t about numbers, never has been and never will be. Loveless isn’t looking to land, if anything, she’s more dedicated to movement.

At only 25 she’s established herself as one of the foremost voices in the cowpunk country tradition, welding rock grit and country charm together with a smirk and a sigh. Nowhere has that been displayed with more confidence than on her latest record, the succinctly-named Real.

The one thing that’s remained consistent across Loveless’ four album discography is a gutsy devotion to her own instincts. You hear it on “Bilbao” when she sings “Marry me / There’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be,” fearless in vulnerability that never cracks. You hear it on “Heaven” when she wrings hope out of a song about death over a loopy, almost Caribbean-influenced hook. Mostly, you hear it in her kerosene vocals — so sharp a full hit of them almost knocks you out — until she pulls back and they’re wavering like a candle flame lit in a late night vigil to Dolly Parton.

She isn’t afraid to let her voice break either, especially when the song calls for it, like on album opener’s fight-or-flight tribute “Same To You” or its follow-up “Longer.” The latter works like a salute, pulling up sharp to grief and then letting it dissipate slowly, “Maybe I should move away?” she muses, fully aware that space and distance will be just as useless as her heart currently is. The only trick, of course, is time. Time, and instincts. Nothing realer than that, and if you’re lucky, you’ll recognize it when you hear it. Listen to the whole album below.

Real is out now via Bloodshot Records. Get it here.