Lydia Loveless made a name for herself as a firebrand alt-country artist, then matured into an indie singer/songwriter whose music made room for contemporary pop influences as well as roots music without betraying her fearless, personal lyrical stance.
Loveless’ vocals combine the honky tonk style of classic country stars like Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline with the no-quarter attitude of punk rock icons such as Exene Cervenka and Carla Bozulich, and her idiosyncratic covers of songs by Kesha and Justin Beiber demonstrate how much passion and individuality she brings to her performances. While her music never fully lost the twang she displayed on 2011's Indestructible Machine and the 2017 collection Boy Crazy and Single(s), her adventurous pop is well represented on 2016's Real and 2020's Daughter.
Loveless was born in Coshocton, Ohio in 1990; she was raised on a farm, but her father was also a music fan who booked bands at a local bar, and Lydia became accustomed early on to seeing bands play and discovering an out-of-town act asleep on the living-room floor in the morning. By the time Loveless was 13, she had taken up songwriting and was doing shows with local bands, playing a combination of rootsy country and punk-influenced rock & roll. After relocating to Columbus, Ohio, Loveless fronted a pop/rock band with her sisters called Carson Drew, but the combo broke up not long after the release of their 2006 album, Under the Table, and Loveless began concentrating on her solo career, forming a backing band with her dad on drums. In 2010, she self-released her first solo album, The Only Man, which earned her rave reviews from the alt-country music media, and as she began work on a follow-up EP, she was contacted by insurgent country label Bloodshot Records, which promptly signed Loveless to a record deal.
At the label's behest, Loveless expanded the EP to an album, and her first Bloodshot effort, Indestructible Machine, was released in September 2011. After the album arrived in stores, Loveless and her band hit the road hard, touring extensively in the United States, Canada, and Europe. In 2013, she began working on material for a third album, but shortly after the sessions for the full-length were completed, she had a burst of inspiration that led to her writing and recording a hard-rocking five-song EP about the ups and downs of relationships. Titled Boy Crazy, the EP was released as a stopgap in late 2013, while an album, the confident and eclectic Somewhere Else, appeared in February 2014. Filmmaker Gorman Bechard made a documentary about her life and music, Who Is Lydia Loveless?, which debuted on the film festival circuit in the fall of 2016. In August of 2016, Loveless released her much-anticipated fourth album, Real. In October 2017, Bloodshot reissued the Boy Crazy EP tracks from three non-LP singles under the title Boy Crazy and Single(s).
The collection proved to be Loveless' last release for Bloodshot and marked the beginning of a period of change. After years of heavy touring and divorcing her husband (who had been playing bass in her road band), Loveless left Ohio and moved to North Carolina, where she settled into a new home, cutting back on her time on the road and concentrating on songwriting. She worked up songs on keyboard rather than guitar for the first time and learned to use rhythm machines and recording software to work out arrangements on her own. She took the songs to The Loft, the Chicago studio founded and operated by the band Wilco, with engineer Tom Schick and Loveless co-producing the sessions. The material formed her fifth album, 2020's Daughter, which she released on her own label, Honey, You're Gonna Be Late Records. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi