Lilly Hiatt, Trinity Lane

J. Pepper

Lilly Hiatt returns with a personal and autobiographical album that was produced by Michael Trent called, Trinity Lane on New West Records. The 12-song set is an examination of the wounds formed by relationships, which as it turns out, is a juncture for exacting honesty. In addition to her backing band, Trent is featured as a musician throughout, and is joined by his wife and Shovels & Rope partner Cary Ann Hearst for backing vocals on “Everything I Had.”

On Trinity Lane, the third album by this fixture of Nashville’s indie scene and first for New West Records, Hiatt’s songs are dedicated to revealing expression, deftly manipulating the tone and perspective of her songwriting from track to track. Her band consists of: guitarist John Condit, bassist Robert Hudson and drummer Allen Jones, who provide a fortifying frame for her confessions, drawing on elements of grunge and twang, and giving her vocals space to express a wide range of emotions that range from tough to sugar sweet. The daughter of John Hiatt, she keeps the family tradition alive by mixing southern influences with Americana, folk and left-of-center country, with a little 90’s alt-rock.  The result is a raw approach that’s honest and connects with listeners everyday lives.

“All Kinds of People” opens the journey, Hiatt has a definite twang to her voice as she sings of coping with a failed relationship. The six-eight feel is kept simple to allow her voice to cut through.  Condit does a nice job of creating textures with different sounds and colors. Hiatt’s songwriting is to the point and her lyrics are thought provoking. Her vocal style is slightly staccato, but it fits in well in this setting and is certainly filled with emotion.

“The Night David Bowie Died” finds Hiatt singing a conversational rocker that displays her songwriting skills to the fullest. Filled with the complex emotions of a break-up, she pendulum swings between moods of passive-aggressiveness to resignation and finally regret.  Her voice is more aggressive for this selection, using the full-range of her voice. The chorus is sung in her upper register, while the verses are in her lower range with moments of talk singing, which fits the conversational style of the song perfectly.

The album’s title track is a piano driven medium-tempo selection that is the perfect union of Americana, rock, and indie Country. Hiatt is making peace with her old demons, her voice is strong on this selection, but always with just the right amount of twang to let you know her country roots.  The lyrics seem to provide details about Hiatt’s everyday life, from the name of her street, to details about her neighbor’s and what she has struggled with in the past when she is bored.

With Trinity Lane Hiatt again shows she has the skills, as both singer and songwriter, to write a collection of tunes that are honest, entertaining and the power of words, that frame the complexity of human emotions. With the perfect blend of acoustic and distorted guitars and well-placed back beats, the music has elements of alt-rock that is still beautifully Americana in style and delivery.

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