Locals Only: Lydia Loveless

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The singer-songwriter sitting across the table from me is not like most 19-year-olds.

Lydia Loveless has been writing rollicking country tearjerkers since before she had her driver's license. Teen songwriters usually reek of adolescent angst, but from the beginning Loveless has been singing like she's seen it all.

It might've been a reach at first, but by now she's done enough hard living to justify her jaded takes on sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

"I've definitely lived differently from most teenagers," Loveless says. "I don't think the average teenager does coke for months on end. But I don't think I'm too different. I think everyone has the same feelings, but I got mixed up with different people.

"I was home-schooled, so I don't have the typical high school story, and I also was playing in a bar with musicians, so the 'boys' I was falling in love with were 10, 20 years older than me. So it's a lot different.

"I think teenagers can still relate to things like that, though, because who doesn't get drunk and have sex when they're 16? It seems to be pretty standard nowadays."

Loveless' career on Columbus stages started at age 13, when she and her sisters Eleanor and Jessica recruited their dad to drum for their band Carson Drew. They got some funny looks from bar owners, but they played like pros.

At the time, they lived in tiny Warsaw near Coschocton. They literally lost the farm and relocated to Columbus when Loveless was 14. After another year, Carson Drew began to disintegrate, so Loveless adopted her stage handle (she withheld her true surname) and began playing her own songs.

Along the way, she gained the attention of David Rhodes Brown, a Cincinnati-area country singer who invited her down I-71 to record with his band 500 Miles to Memphis. Then Steve McGann saw her at ComFest last year and offered to put out the album on his fledgling Peloton Records, which brings us to Saturday's CD release show.

The Only Man, Loveless' long-gestating debut, presents 10 twangy tales of brokenhearted boozing from an accomplished songwriter.

She can be a little overbearing lyrically (see: "Girls Suck"), but her bluntness is often more of an asset than a hindrance to these saloon tunes. And while her melodies could stand to be a little more diverse, they always sound pleasantly bittersweet coming from that voice.

Backing Loveless at Rumba Cafe will be the first stable lineup she's ever fielded. Her dad Parker Chandler is on drums as usual, with Mike Folker (RokCity Studios) on guitar and Benjamin Lamb (Woosley Band, X-Rated Cowboys) on bass.

Although she plays it cool throughout our conversation, Loveless is clearly anxious to finally release her record after all these years.

"I just want to see what people think of the album," she says. "I want to promote it nationally and go on tour and continue to be the drunken rock star that I am so I can keep writing songs."

E-mail your local music news to Chris DeVille at cdeville@columbusalive.com

Lydia Loveless

When: 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6

Where: Rumba Cafe, Campus

Web: myspace.com/lydialoveless