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Real was recorded at Sonic Lounge Studios on her home turf of Columbus, OH and was engineered and produced by Joe Viers. “I chose to work with Joe Viers, engineer and producer of my last three releases, again because I trust him completely not only with my music but with my words,” Lydia said. “There was a lot to say this time around and I wanted to return to that sort of playground and (sometimes literally) throw things at the wall. Whereas our previous records could be described as blunt or raw, this one I wanted to be known as honest, as true, as real (rimshot),” she added.
Real is one of those exciting records where you sense an artist truly hitting their stride, that their vision is both focused and expansive, and that their talent brims with a confident sense of place, execution and exploration. Whether you’ve followed Lydia’s career forever, like us, or if you are new to her ample game, Real is gonna grab your ears.
On her first two Bloodshot full-length releases (2014’s Somewhere Else and 2011’s Indestructible Machine) there were fevered comparisons to acknowledged music icons like Loretta Lynn, Stevie Nicks, Replacements, and more: She’s half this, half that, one part something else. We hate math. But, now Real and Lydia Loveless are reference points of their own. Genre-agnostic, Lydia and her road-tightened band pull and tease and stretch from soaring, singalong pop gems, roots around the edges to proto-punk. There are many sources, but the album creates a sonic center of gravity all its own. Song to song, moment to moment, you may find yourself thinking “that could be…” or “there are moments of…” but you are quickly transported away to another moment, another thought, another sound, another shot at honesty.
Always a gifted writer, Lydia gives the full and sometimes terrifying, sometimes ecstatic force of the word “real.” Struggles between balance and outburst, infectious choruses fronting emotional torment are sung with a sneer, a spit, or a tenderness and openness that is both intensely personal and relatably universal It is, as the title suggests, real.
But what is “real”?
In the hands of a performer like Lydia, however, it is cast to almost Plantonic depths:“We refer only to things fully formed and everlasting as “real”. If a marriage ends it was “fake” and everything was a “lie”. We ask if quickly made up tunes are “real songs”. The veil of depression causes to wonder if we’re real people, feeling discarded, sitting at the kid’s table. Am I real even if I stayed in bed all day? Is love real even when it’s over or goes entirely unfulfilled? Are we real after we die, even if no one remembers us? Or is anything temporary merely a fake, a phony, a stand in. I was thinking about this a lot when I was writing these songs. What makes someone, even someone lacking the confident to show their true selves a “real” authentic person. When I strip away my vices who am I really. Am I only myself when I’m dancing on a table and making the most vulgar of wisecracks, even though I hate that person, it gets a rise out of myself. The party monkey side. But the side with any amount of grace is often met with concern or disdain. Who are you really, at the end of the day, entirely alone, without all the daydreams and the bullshit and the performance art we go through all day every day, even non performers or as we call them, “normal” peopleBecause I feel like I spent my formative years flopping around like a fish, masking pain with substance abuse and somewhat ashamed of who I was—a hayseed, a phony, I felt—it was absolutely necessary for me to become a stronger, more confident human, or I was going to die. Real is my sort of love letter to that realization, that my existence was just as valid as any other.”Loveless is joined on the album by Todd May (vocals, guitars, keys), Ben Lamb (bass), Jay Gasper (guitars, pedal steel, keys), George Hondroulis (drums, percussion, keys), Andy Harrison (guitar, keys) and Viers (percussion, guitar).