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Lydia Loveless

Indestructible Machine – 2011 (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Lydia Loveless

Lydia Loveless' music career was as inevitable as sunrise and sunset. Born and raised into a musical family in tiny Coshocton, Ohio, Loveless was playing bass with her sisters in a band called Carson Drew at 13, experienced the big city scene after a move to Columbus at 14 and began concentrating on a solo career at 15. She was just 17 when she began work on her debut album, the slick and sometimes clinically country "The Only Man," which was finally released last year to generally positive and well deserved reviews.

The most immediate effect of "The Only Man" was that Loveless wanted her next album to reflect the gritty and visceral sound of her and her band in the live setting. As such, "Indestructible Machine," Loveless' sophomore album and debut for Bloodshot, finds her exploring her twang/punk range and depth with a raw intensity and without relying on studio spitshine. On Can't Change Me, she displays the debt she owes and handily repays to classic country outlaws like Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Sr. as well as contemporary rock icons like The Clash, while Bad Way to Go has the steaming, stomping energy of Neko Case fronting the Old 97s.

The album's highest profile track is clearly Steve Earle, a humorously swaggering account only tangentially related to the singer/songwriter (it's an ode to the self-described "Steve Earle of Columbus"), but it's sandwiched by perhaps the two best tracks - the double clutched belly-up-to-the-altar electric hymnal of Jesus Was a Wino and the gorgeous melancholy cantina swing and sway of Learn to Say No.

"Indestructible Machine" is an amazing evolutionary step forward for Lydia Loveless, an elemental evocation of the country and the rock that are the foundation of her musical upbringing.