The best songs — the ones that stick to your ear bones and continue to reverberate tend to hold the pieces most folks would rather hide. Lilly Hiatt’s new album, Trinity Lane, doesn’t hide anything. Addiction, doubt, distortion, heartache, hope, recovery, resignation, reverb… Lilly Hiatt’s voice reaches and undulates through the opening track, “All Kinds of People,” before truly unhinging amid the loneliness and crunch of “The Night David Bowie Died.” The biographical title track brings you into Lilly’s realm where you can look around, stay, or go. It’s upbeat but with an underlying tension. She’s hasn’t dealt, she’s dealing… Today is good, and that is good enough.
Trinity Lane is driven by honesty. Like her father, John Hiatt, Lilly has the ability to wield her voice like a chimerical battle ax– hoist, hold, plunge. “Impostor” is a tribute to John, but Lilly also searches for clues to her own identity. Her mother was a suicide, an unknown in her life. How much, how little influence does the shared DNA of someone she’s never met have on Lilly? And should it? Once again the catharsis of the song is not ultimate– there will always be questions without answers, aspects of her persona that will remain a mystery.
Michael Trent of Shovels & Rope produced Trinity Lane with a common ear bent towards the visceral guitar laden thickness of 1990’s alternative music. Though the album is named for the street in East Nashville that Lilly calls home, Hiatt and Trent recorded at Studio Bees in Johns Island, SC – away from the known quantities of Nashville. There’s a sonic resemblance to the hip anger of Anton Newcombe, but a vulnerability that evokes Lucinda Williams. The songs are laden with Lilly’s recovery– at 32, she’s been sober for 5 years. She credits her sobriety to the most enduring aspect of her life– rock n’ roll.
Music doesn’t tempt Lilly Hiatt with destruction– nor does it judge. What kind of lover has the patience and understanding of a song? On “Records”, Lilly peels apart her life. She removes the rotten bits, the wrongness. There must have been a particular fear that once free of booze and dope, rock n’ roll would be cold– possibly even sour. After a banner or mediocre day, at the end of a night filled with promise or robbed of it’s expectation, whether she was right or wrong… Faith in a rock n’ roll song helps Lilly Hiatt fight demons and sleep well.