I first caught Lydia Loveless upon Wayne "The Train" Hancock's urging. Consequently, I listened to her with honky-tonk ears, or at least with some degree of rural expectation. When I saw her live, she played alone, accompanied by her lone guitar and a bold assertiveness amidst a noisy crowd. I admired her for her lack of drama and pretty voice (when I could hear it). I wanted more.
So now at last, I sit beneath my headphones, and it's just Loveless, her new CD "Somewhere Else," and me. There's definitely a twang, but it isn't overly countrified. Loveless isn't afraid to dig beyond the dirt and drawl and go straight to the asphalt and urgency of a more balls-out rock sound.
It's a bit like influence once removed, as Loveless takes nods from bands that were initially influenced by American roots and a dive-bar aesthetic, but which promptly went their own way. And if you were going to say, "Yeah, kind of like The Replacements," I beat you to it. Loveless is lyrically more direct than Westerberg, but just as honest. Classic rock 'n' roll themes of love and longing and love lost dominate "Somewhere Else," simply because — more than anything else — this is a rock 'n' roll record. And it's a good one, too.