Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song is featured during the 2014 Spring Fundraising Drive. Your continuing support makes it possible for us to share with you “Head” by Lydia Loveless from the 2014 album Somewhere Else on Bloodshot Records.
Combining the young/sad/high poetic fury of Heartbreaker-era Ryan Adams, the messy earnestness of Paul Westerberg, and a rich, pining voice that was made to soundtrack last call at a Nashville dive bar, Lydia Loveless’ ragged brand of country rock is an (alcohol-drenched) breath of fresh air. Born and raised in rural Ohio, Loveless grew up in a musical family, and while she played in a band with her sisters and father for a while in the 2000s, her solo career began at the end of that decade with the Nashville-polished The Only Man, which was released in 2010 after languishing in development purgatory for three years. Unhappy with the slick sound of her debut, Loveless sought to make a rougher, more honest record. The result was 2012’s Indestructible Machine, an album that lived up to the whiskey-soaked anguish that its cover (a woman drinking from a gasoline can) conjectured. Two years of touring led to the batch of songs that resulted in Somewhere Else, a record that finds Loveless as lovelorn and clever as she’s ever been. (Its opening line is “Well, honey I was just thinking about you and how you got married last June… just thought I’d give you a call.”) Loveless intentionally incorporated more non-country elements into Somewhere Else, and “Head” picks up threads of early ’90s college rock in its ragged jangle and emotional bluntness. The latter point is especially significant because – you guessed it – “Head” is a song about drinking too much, going home, and eschewing any sense of coyness, having someone go down on her. She bookends her choruses with verses describing her longing for her lover (in dreams, bars), but they only serve to emphasize her chorus sentiment: while Loveless may have genuinely missed her lover, she would prefer it he cut the smalltalk and got down on his knees. At first listen, “Head” might come off as crude and that’s because it is. Laudably honest and home to a few of Somewhere Else’s best one-liners, “Head” pulls no punches and is plenty effective at, pun intended, turning heads to anyone who’s quick to write off Loveless as just another country singer.
Lydia will bring Somewhere Else to the Tractor Tavern on April 4th. Get tickets and more info on that 21+ show here, keep up with Lydia on her Facebook and website, and below, watch her play the Indestructible Machine standout “Steve Earle” live in 2012.