Singer-songwriter Lydia Loveless said she is trying to stray away from becoming a “folk-country queen,” a title that has become tied, with a certain degree of variation, to her over the course of her career.
While writing the songs for her most recent Feb. 18 release, “Somewhere Else,” she threw away an album’s worth of material and decided to start over. Loveless, born Lydia Ankrom, said she found that the original, scrapped songs were trying too hard to fit into the critical conception of her as a brand of country musician.
“I was writing songs for the album and I kind of had it in my head that I had to be a folk-country queen, so I was writing sort of stuff just to cram it into a genre, instead of just letting go and letting the songs come out,” Loveless said. “I think (‘Somewhere Else’) is relaxing, and following my natural … songwriting path. Instead of trying to like, ‘I’m going to write a country song,’ I sit down and think ‘I’m going to write a song about this.’ I don’t worry about it if becomes poppy or if it’s not country enough or not rock ‘n’ roll enough.”
The Coshocton, Ohio-born Loveless said she did not have any anxiety of being pigeonholed earlier in her career. On her previous album, 2011’s “Indestructible Machine,” the tinge of country was inherent — something Loveless might have sought, she said.
“I was a lot younger and I hadn’t had as much attention yet. I think I was still experimenting at that point, but I guess I did want to be a part of the country scene … Not that I’m actively trying to break away from country (now), I’ll always like Americana, country music, but I don’t necessarily need to worry about what CMT (Country Music Television) or country music blogs think.”
Loveless is expected to bring cuts from “Somewhere Else” to her concert Saturday at Rumba Café. Although it is not her first show in support of the new album, it is set to be her first, post-release in her hometown.
Since January, Loveless has seen national attention, having taken a spot on “Rolling Stone’s” list of “10 New Artists You Need to Know” and receiving feature treatment from “Spin.” The national press surrounding Loveless has largely come following “Indestructible Machine,” though it held anticipation for “Somewhere Else.”
“It’s been really cool to be getting attention as a female who plays alt-country from Ohio. It’s pretty awesome,” Loveless said, laughing.
National acclaim aside, the 23-year-old has a prominent fan base in her home of Columbus. Kyle Siegrist, owner of Clintonville’s Lost Weekend Records, located at 2960 N. High St., said he sold out of his first batch of “Somewhere Else” records on the album’s release date.
“We’re definitely big fans of hers at Lost Weekend. She’s definitely played (shows in) our store several times,” Siegrist said.
Siegrist said he saw Loveless perform for the first time at ComFest, short for Community Festival, an annual event held at Goodale Park in June.
“I thought she was really good. At the time, she had a more traditional, more Patsy Cline-y country voice. She was 17 or 18 at that point.”
Loveless’ fan base could be a result of the notable role she has played in the city’s music community and her driven attitude, as indicated by Maggie Brennan, music director at WCBE 90.5. The radio station is a sponsor of Loveless’ concert Saturday.
“She’s a good example of knowing what she wants early. She started when she was 15. She just gets better and better with each release. She doesn’t let up, doesn’t hold back,” Brennan said. “(‘Somewhere Else’ is) just top-notch and the real deal. We have so many local people that are so amazing in town. It’s so nice that she’s getting the recognition she deserves.”
Loveless said she might have exerted more tenacity in writing and producing “Somewhere Else” than she did on previous albums.
“I think I’ve gotten a lot more confident in my style. Before, I was sort of fumbling around and figuring out what I wanted to do,” Loveless said. “I’m super proud of (‘Somewhere Else’) and really excited to have it out, and I hope everyone likes it.”
Rumba Café is located at 2507 Summit St. The sold-out show is set to begin at 9 p.m. with Swimsuit Edition supporting Loveless.