Interview: Lydia Loveless Strikes Fear in the Hearts of Her Exes on ‘Somewhere Else’
By Shannon Carlin
Lydia Loveless doesn’t have a problem speaking her mind, which should make her ex-boyfriends very, very nervous.
On her third album Somewhere Else, the 23-year-old Ohioan wanted to take a sophisticated look at love and heartbreak, all while taking the piss out of a few of her former flames. “I thought more about the lyrics and the pain this time around,” Loveless told Radio.com over the phone. “I didn’t want to make the same album so I do think it was a conscience decision to be more eloquent and I guess, sexy.”
She says this last part with a laugh, admitting that many have told her this new album is not sexy at all. But Loveless’ version of sexy is a little rough around the edges. On the mostly autobiographical Somewhere Else, she sings about her resurfaced feelings for an ex with wine-stained lips, mocks her Chris Isaak-loving high school beau and writes the most depressing song about oral sex aptly titled “Head.”
“I just wanted to make an album that sounded like, not a diary by a whiney girl, but just something open and sort of pulsing,” she explained. “Like when I was writing it and still when I play the songs, I feel sort of cut open. I wanted to get that across without sounding too girly or me talking about my period.”
With her previous two releases—2010’s The Only Man and 2012’s Indestructible Machine—Loveless said that she didn’t have much of a female audience, even though she was writing about very feminine topics. Instead her bourbon-soaked brand of alt-country was attracting a lot of middle-aged men who were misinterpreting the message.
“I feel like I’m being extremely feminine, but [men] hear it and go, ‘Oh, she’s really manly’ and ‘She’ll kick your ass,'” Loveless explained. “But no, I’m being extremely girly right now, talking about my feelings, but I happen to be really intense or upset about something. Men take that as sort of threatening.” Not that this is such a bad thing in Loveless’ book. “I like that being really feminine is threatening and scary,” she says with a raspy laugh that makes you feel like she might not kick your ass, but she definitely could.
While Loveless speaks honestly about the men of her past, there is one man she isn’t talking about on this record, her husband Ben Lamb. One reason she says she married Lamb, who also happens to be her bass player, was because he never questions who her songs are about. “In previous relationships, the guys used to ask, like, ‘Is that about me?’ ‘Well, no,’ which they don’t like to hear,” Loveless said. “I think a guy would rather hear a song is about him than not.”
Lucky for some of those guys, they finally got what they wanted. And even luckier for Loveless it led her to make an album she’s completely in love with.
“This time around I feel confident about every track, and I didn’t feel like there was anything I could have thrown away without crying and yelling,” she explained. “I feel like it’s a lot stronger of an album in that regard. So I’m a lot more excited about it. I found my place as a songwriter.”
While speaking with Radio.com, Loveless shared the stories behind five songs off her latest album, Somewhere Else, including why she feels a kinship with French poet Paul Verlaine and which song she wrote with Swedish pop star Robyn in mind.
One the next page, Loveless discusses “Wine Lips”, “Chris Isaak” and a battle twixt two French poets…