Don't be fooled by the little black dresses -- the ladies fronting bands at Uncle Slayton's Thursday night were more hellcat than Hepburn. Both Alabama Brown, opening with her band the Inside Outlaws, and headliner Lydia Loveless belied their lady-like exteriors with brash lyrics and rowdy, foot-stomping songs, mining the always-popular territory of the men who disappoint them (deeply) and the means one adopts to deal with them. This generally involves lots of drinking.
Louisville's Alabama Brown got the evening off to the right start in a loose set of mostly up-tempo numbers, but the slower ballad nicely showcased what a fine voice she has. Backed by snare drum, guitar, and fiddle, Brown keeps the energy level high and has a real sense of fun. In addition to the original songs (I particularly liked "Dirty Business" which ended the set), she covered Sarah Jaffe's popular "Clementine" and turned in a creative and funny cover of Eazy-E's "Boyz in da Hood" rap, mashed up unexpectedly with "Wagon Wheel." Well, that's something you don't hear every day.
I had heard Lydia Loveless was petite, and when I first saw her standing beside her towering upright bass player at mike check, she seemed that much tinier. Her ruffled dress and sling-back pumps (I can't help it, I always notice the footwear) would never prepare you for the classic honky-tonk voice that pours out of her, effortlessly slipping between beleaguered, boozy regret and defiant, I'm-a-little-crazy-and-might-set-your-sofa-on-fire-you-two-timing-dog pugnacity. She played most, if not all, the songs from her Bloodshot Records debut, Indestructible Machine, a dandy collection of tunes that sound already like country classics. Loveless is backed by a strong band -- bassist Ben Lamb, drummer Parker Chandler, and guitarist Todd May -- but the lead singer is the real attention-getter, whether she's snarling out epithets or crooning from behind the Veronica Lake wave that veils one eye. "Steve Earle," "Learn to Say No," and a solo cover of Elvis Costello's "Allison" were stand-outs for me. If you missed the show, and this is your type of music, Loveless should definitely be on your list of new artists to check out.
Lydia Loveless and her band
In a quieter moment
Photo Credits: Lee Burchfield and Selena Frye