Now the Columbus expat, who performs at the grand opening of Franklinton space Secret Studio on Friday, just needs to figure out precisely how and when it's coming out

UPDATE: The Lydia Loveless concert at Secret Space has been canceled amid coronavirus concerns and Loveless will now be opening for Ward Hayden & the Outliers at Natalie's Coal-Fired Pizza in Worthington tonight (Friday, March 13).

In early March, Lydia Loveless was sitting in a car parked in the driveway of her home in rural North Carolina, where she’s lived outside of Raleigh since leaving Columbus two years ago, listening to a woman hum — an experience that was only disconcerting because Loveless was alone in the vehicle at the time.

“And I heard this humming as if it was inside my head,” Loveless said in a recent phone interview (the musician’s boyfriend, magician Michael Casey, was inside the house at the time and somehow heard the same disembodied voice). “It definitely wasn’t a thing like, ‘Oh, someone left their phone on.’ It was very much a woman’s actual voice. … I guess there was a plane crash in our backyard some time ago, so I’ve considered maybe it’s [related to] that.

“[Michael] definitely doesn’t believe in ghosts, at all, whereas I’m totally into it but also terrified. I want to have a ghost experience, but I also don’t, because I would die. I played at this haunted theater last year when I was on tour with Mountain Goats, and I went in the basement and I was alone and kind of freaked out, and someone was like, ‘Oh, you must have had an experience.’ No. I’m just a wimp and I’m terrified of being by myself in the basement.”

That concert stop might be the only time in recent history that Loveless has flinched. In February 2019, the musician bravely documented the years of “casual predation” she said she experienced at the hands of Mark Panick, the partner of Nan Warshaw, co-owner of Loveless’ former label, Bloodshot Records. The following month, Warshaw resigned from Bloodshot.

In an interview earlier this year, Loveless’ former label mate, Sarah Shook, said that Bloodshot didn't handle the situation the way it should have from the onset. “When something like this happens, from a business point of view, the knee-jerk reaction is, ‘This is a PR nightmare,’ but that immediately needs to be followed by, ‘OK, now let’s step back from that. This is a human being who had a very awful and completely valid experience and that’s what we need to focus on,’” Shook said. “I think eventually it did get to that place, but it took longer than I would have liked.”

Get news and entertainment delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our daily newsletter

For her part, Loveless understandably doesn’t want to revisit events, though she did acknowledge that she’s still coming to terms with the experience and the public firestorm that followed in its wake. “I can tell you I still feel pretty shell-shocked,” she said. “I’ve definitely been working on forgiving myself, and accepting that not everything in the universe is my fault.”

Amid the ensuing downtime, Loveless retreated to The Loft, Wilco’s Chicago studio, to record a new album. “It’s basically a huge playground of instruments,” said Loveless, who played more piano (a first on any recording) and bass on the forthcoming long-player, which contains more intricate vocal harmonies than past efforts.“Everyone was trading off [instruments] and it was pretty experimental, but it doesn’t sound like a bunch of shit falling down stairs, which is good.”

While not a political record ("I'm not Billy Bragg or anything"), the musician said a number of songs are colored by the “exhaustion and dread” inherent in this current social and political era. Now Loveless just has to figure out how and when the album, which has been recorded and is currently in the mixing stage, will be released.

“I’m talking to people and putting things in motion, but it’s obviously been like hitting reset, especially after being on [Bloodshot] for so long and starting when I was so young,” said Loveless, who will perform at Secret Studio as part of the new Franklinton space’s grand opening celebration on Friday, March 13. “It’s definitely been a new experience just to be like, ‘Who the hell am I? What’s going to happen?’ Just this constant sense of dread and existential crisis.”

At the same time, freed from most tour and press responsibilities (Loveless currently doesn’t have a publicist), the musician has embraced this calmer stretch as a chance to reflect on these larger questions and to consider how she wants to move forward from here.

“In a way, I still have no clue who I am, but I also feel a lot more confident in myself. … I’m a little bit less of an idiot, so that helps me make better decisions,” she said, and laughed. “I've had more opportunity to think about what I want to do and how I want to develop myself, you know, as a person as opposed to a performer.”