The description of a 21-year-old female singer who finds inspiration from the classic days of country as well as Britney Spears might conjure up the image of Taylor Swift. Tell that to Lydia Loveless, and you'll get more than a dirty look. The fiery redhead is more likely to sing about drinking, drugs and sex than falling in love with a boy in high school.
Loveless isn't a pop-country singer in any sense of the words. Her music instead fuses elements of punk and rockabilly into the vocal style of Patsy Cline. You'll hear a banjo just as easily as the words "piss," "pussy" and "goddamn." You might expect a phone conversation to include the same harsh tone, but Loveless is actually a soft-spoken, shy girl whose age comes through during a conversation filled more with short answers and giggles than lengthy answers.
Loveless is hitting the road in support of her sophomore album, Indestructible Machine, which was released in September, and making her first Charlotte appearance at The Evening Muse on Oct. 12. She started writing for the album two years ago, though the actual recording process only took two months.
"In the midst of it all, I probably thought I wasn't doing anything else with my life, but once we were done, I thought it went pretty quick," she says by phone from her Ohio home. "The first album is way more country. I think a lot of the songs are pretty immature on that album. I think I've changed a lot but not too much. I just have lived more and grown up a little bit."
She started playing music at age 13 and performing in bars at age 15. Her father, also her drummer, supported her, a fact Loveless is both surprised and proud of. "He wasn't Joe Jackson or anything, but he encouraged me to do what I want," she says. "It's a pretty delusional career choice, so it's good to have someone telling you it's realistic. I probably spend more time with my dad than anyone else I know — more than anyone spends time with their dad, I mean."
She says there are songs on the first album that she can no longer relate to and feels she has matured since then. Even though Loveless, which is her real name, shows a wisdom beyond her years and acknowledges that she used to have quite an attitude, she doesn't like the "mature" label.
"I think it's sometimes detrimental for people to harp on the maturity thing because it makes it seem like I'm perpetuating that — 'I'm so mature,'" she says. "What kind of a thing is that to say? It's kind of annoying. I just read a review that said I think I'm better than other singers who are young. No, I've just been doing it for a while. Having that lifestyle from a younger age has probably made me more mature, sadly. That was my life, to play music. I grew up differently than most people. I don't feel old, but I don't relate to most people my age."
Loveless says her soulful style is often compared to other singers simply based on her age and gender rather than her style of music or songwriting. She notes a broad range of inspiration — from the Gin Blossoms ("I'm inspired by really stupid bands.") to Britney Spears ("She's amazing.") to Hank Williams ("An amazing songwriter.").
"People say, 'She ain't no Taylor Swift.' Duh, that's obvious," Loveless says. "I guess Britney Spears in particular amazes me because it's amazing that she can do what she does and remain at all sane. It's funny to me that people constantly make fun of her for being stupid and insane because she's been constantly doing music, since she was 7 years old. She couldn't possibly have had time to go to a good school or develop like a normal child. It's amazing to me that she can function like a normal person at all."
When asked what she thinks about Spears' lip-synching, she says she doesn't care. "I wish Taylor Swift would lip-synch," she laughs. "Sometimes there are some people that should."