Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Song Highlight: Lydia Loveless - Wringer

Turning on the local country music radio station is an action fraught with disappointment. Most of what I hear does not feel genuine, almost as if an algorithm was used to generate 4 minute tracks that might appeal to the stereotypical “hard working American.” Throw in something about relaxing by the creek, fishing rod in hand, and drinking a cold beer. Add some objectifying words towards women, and thank God for the USA. Make sure there is some acoustic guitar present and you have a country song fit for the radio.

Fortunately for us, not every country musician is chasing the next big hit and leaving earnestly out of the equation. Whenever singer/songwriter Lydia Loveless puts out new music, you can expect a bevy of emotionally honest songs that came into the world out of necessity, and not simply a need to meet a 2 year album cycle. She released a new album this year, Daughter, which is a follow-up to 2016’s Real. I listened to a lot of music in 2020, and Daughter had my favorite song of the year on it, “Wringer.”

“Wringer” is a jangly guitar-driven song carried by Lydia’s emotive voice. She reflects on a relationship that is falling apart, partly due to unreasonable expectations each participant placed upon one another. All of this is anchored by the evocative imagery of their love putting both of them “through the wringer.” But a careful listen suggests that the song is more interesting than just talking about romantic relationships. The line: “said that you don’t do it for fame, or financial gain. Didn’t you always stick by me through everything?” brings to mind her struggles with Bloodshot Records, who have released most of her albums. They certainly put her through the wringer. Fortunately, she has rid herself of them, releasing Daughter on her own label. Finally, her attention goes to her own aspirations putting a strain on herself: “I want to be a symphony, but I’m just a singer. And all that singing ever does is run me through the wringer.” And while Lydia may doubt her abilities, after releasing a host of excellent albums, it seems like she can do no wrong. By being a singer, she has touched many lives, myself included. 

Make sure to buy Lydia’s music here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Micah Schnabel - The Teenage Years of the 21st Century (2019)

The teenage years of the 21st century. That is an interesting way to think of the last 7 years or so of this new century, imagining it as a anxious, self-entitled teenager. It is a pretty apt comparison, as we have seen a rise in social unrest, ultranationalism, and racism. This comparison is exactly what singer/songwriter Micah Schnabel invites us to make with his fantastic 2019 album, The Teenage Years of the 21st Century.