"Well if you really wanna raise your voice to me/ It's gonna change how I feel about you, buddy, but it won't change me."
Lydia Loveless' "Can't Change Me" is one of those perfect storms, a song that rips out your heart then gets stuck in your head. It's a simple, honest tale, one in which Loveless takes a hard look at her wild ways and concludes she's just fine with them, thank you. A few verses in, she says to Jesus, "I've had thoughts about you that are gonna keep you up tonight," and you sort of forget she's only 21 years old.
"It's a song about trying to change to fit a relationship," she says. "Men are always like, 'That's about how you're a stubborn bitch.' But, of course, the women relate."
Indestructible Machine, the Ohio-bred singer-guitarist's sophomore album and first for Bloodshot Records, leans on the holy country trinity of booze, love and Jesus, but Loveless' whopper of a voice and way with a melody saves it from being a punchline. While "Jesus Was a Wino" and "How Many Women" are tongue-in-cheek, the album is obviously very personal.
"My mouth is like a sinking boat/ I keep pouring words out hoping I can keep afloat/ But the more I try to dry out the more I get soaked."
"That's what I was going through when I was writing it," she explains. "A terrible breakup with a guy who was crazy. Getting older. Your religious upbringing starts to crumble, and I was drinking a lot. ... When I was a teenager, I got super Catholic, and converted. I'm not as religious as I used to be, but I think it's different from believing in God."
The album sounds different than her 2010 debut, The Only Man, something she was very conscious of. "The first one wasn't produced by me, and it was a different vision. They were good guys, but it was very polished, more mainstream."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
We've seen the movie: Take a girl from the country and make her a star. But that wasn't Loveless' bag, and on Indestructible Machine she sounds much more comfortable with her own rough mix of punk and country. As clever and focused as the album is, Loveless still struggles with her farm-raised past, on "Can't Change Me" and beyond.
"You can write me off as just white trash/ Well it don't take much to see that."
"When I was growing up in the country, I was removed from that but now that I live [in the city], I've picked up traits again. You develop this 'fuck you' attitude. I'll notice an accent pops out. I'll be walking around naked and my husband will be like, 'Why don't we close the curtains?'"
Lydia Loveless performs with Scott H. Biram Thursday, January 26, at LaGrange.