Lydia Loveless isn’t the first recording artist to go with a non de plume. Sting, David Bowie and Billy Idol also abandoned their given names when their careers commenced.
“I love what Billy Idol said when he was asked about his name,” said Loveless, who was born Lydia Ankstrom. “He said, ‘This is my real name. I gave myself this name.' Fair enough. I kept half of my name. I’m Lydia but what people don’t know is that my parents almost named me Joanne. That would have made things very different. It would have messed up my numerology, which is my jam.”
Loveless’ other jam is relationships. The lovelorn singer-songwriter has written about the ups and downs between men and women since her 2010 album, “The Only Man." Such critically acclaimed follow-ups, “Boy Crazy” and “Indestructible Machine,” are full of melancholy but rollicking punk meets country.
“I love to write about relationships,” Loveless says in a phone interview from Nashville. “I’ve been obsessed with romance since I was a kid. I remember wanting a boyfriend when I was a teenager just so I could cry about something. I know that the thing to do right now is to write a protest record, but I don’t want to do that. I’m not in the mood to write something so heavy handed. I was raised very politically but at the end of the day, all we have are relationships.”
Loveless, 27, grew up on a steady diet of the melodramatic delivered by such recording artists as Tori Amos, Fiona Apple and the late Jeff Buckley.
“I was a big fan of Tori’s 'From The Choirgirl Hotel' album, and so I would spend hours crying about nothing,” Loveless admits.
Loveless, who is divorced, primarily drew from from her own experience when she was making her early albums. However, her latest, 2016’s “Real,” is full of allegories.
“I was mostly writing from other people’s perspective,” Loveless says. “But then people would come up to me and cry and say a certain song from that album changed their life. It’s funny that they think every song comes from my experience. I’m a divorcee before I reached the age of 30 but it’s not like I’ve experienced everything.”
When Loveless is not crafting her deep, rousing Americana, she zones out to pop music.
“That’s how I escape,” Loveless says. “I love listening to random pop crap. I love some of it. I love Charli XCX. She is a very good songwriter and she’s fun. It’s fun to listen to celebratory pop. It would be strange if I just listened to recording artists who make similar music all the time. The pop songs move me.”
Loveless will preview a number of unrecorded songs April 19 at the Cat’s Cradle. It's a return to the Cradle stage, having performed a rare solo show there in December.
“The new songs are darker,” Loveless says. “It’s taking me a little longer than usual to finish things off, but it’s going well.”
Loveless isn’t sure when the album will be complete, but she can’t help but show off the new tunes, even though fans might post the material on YouTube.
“I wish they wouldn’t do that but I have no control over it,” Loveless says. “Why not just show up and live in the moment? You’re already cooler than everybody else since you’re at the show. Why not leave it at that? I don’t need to see myself playing these unreleased songs on YouTube.”
It wasn’t easy for Loveless to watch herself in the acclaimed 2016 documentary "Who is Lydia Loveless?"
“I had to see the documentary three times during the editing process, and it was awful seeing myself up there,” Loveless says. “I saw all of the weird, quirky things I do. It made me hate myself. After seeing it, I thought that should behoove me to have more confidence. I would rather not be the subject of a film. Just let me write and record songs and allow me to play them on the road. That’s enough for me.”
Who: Lydia Loveless with Bruxes
When: 8:30 p.m. April 19
Where: Cat's Cradle, 300 E. Main St., Carrboro
Info: 919-967-9053 or catscradle.com