My crossings with Lydia have been short. I once got a ticket to see Coheed and Cambria years ago before remembering Lydia and gang were in town on the same night (I took some stick for that one) and last years Holiday Hangout. But she’s always been on my stereo with her scratchy bar-country stylings. “Somewhere Else” showed a sound evolving into a tighter, cleaner sound. “Real” is the next step forward. The first almost totally hidden synthy notes in “Same To You” and jumpy bassline in “Heaven” were a surprise but begin to make sense. This is a pop album with all the lyric honesty and humour we’ve come to expect.
Gone is the whiskey soaked sounds of before. This is slicker and more dynamic than ever before. “Out Of Love” is little more than a guitar, double bass with accents and vocal harmonies. The only hints of her past sounds come towards the end on “European”, “Clumps” and the titular track. Lydia’s voice has never sounded so harnessed and pushed to the ragged edge of emotion before. The glue in the joints of this album is Benjamins bass playing. Strong and driving, lifting proceedings. The whole band feel more comfortable with the sounds being made than ever. I wrote this review in the evening sunlight with the windows open and is a perfect summer album. If the first two Lydia Loveless albums were for dive bars with dry rot, “Real” is beachside or Miami hotel rooftop bars. If said bars went for emotionally strong music over piano covers. I actually feel guilty for not writing this wearing a sports coat with sleeves pushed up over the elbow. There are moments where this album transcends artists and sounded like updated Kirsty MacColl.
If you aren’t listening to this album, mores the shame. “Real” is a perfect mix of jangly pop and cutting lyrics. Between this album and the forthcoming Gorman Bechard documentary “Who Is Lydia Loveless?“, 2016 is the year of Lydia Loveless.
Welcome to my first piece for Ninebullets. Romeo Sid Vicious has been wanting to get me on the staff here and its an honour to be onboard. Yes, he reviewed the demo EP I put out recently but that was RSV’s own doing and his love of my music
Without a doubt, Austin Lucas is one of my favourite artists and one I definitely don’t get to see enough (the list of which is exhaustive) and is one I’ve enjoyed growing up with from seeing in my first year at the White Water Tavern For Two Cow Garage 10th Anniversary to only last week in Sheffield.
The birth of Between The Moon And The Midwest has not been easy but thankfully it is finally available to the world. It is closer in sound to the straight ahead Stay Reckless but certainly isn’t going backwards. “The Flame” is rammed full of honky tonk piano, horns and flanged drums which show off Austin’s intention for the album. With Glossary’s Joey Kneiser, at the helm, there’s an organic feel to the album with swells of pedal steel and vocal harmonies. While the guitar playing on Austin’s albums have never been overly flashy, more complimentary, the guitar and steel work of Ricky White (who is time served through Edinburgh punks Oi Polloi) is allowed to sit beside the vocals and be equally melodic in its own right. Elsewhere, the dynamics shift up a notch with Lydia Loveless providing a counter-point to the narrator of “Wrong Side Of A Dream”.
This is Austin’s strongest work to date, and one that I’ve fallen in love with off the bat. I can’t recommend this album enough. Here at 9B, we are all about the songs even when the Nashville machine doesn’t. When this finally drops in the USA, you best make sure you pick it up! It earns its place in the Essential Listening here at 9B towers.