Lilly Hiatt shines on new album “Walking Proof”

Last year Lilly Hiatt posted a picture on her Instagram capturing the reorganization of her beloved vinyl collection. A wide variety of albums by artists such as John Lennon, Loretta Lynn, Pearl Jam, and Kacey Musgraves filled the room with little carpet to show underneath. It is Hiatt’s ability to constantly absorb all kinds of music, take her influences, and make something of her own. It is part of what adds to Hiatt’s highly-anticipated fourth studio album, “Walking Proof,” that makes her voice one that needs to be heard as it has something to say. 

After the release of her highly-praised 2017 album “Trinity Lane,” Hiatt went into Lincoln Parish’s (former guitarist for Cage The Elephant) Nashville studio for the first time and began working on demos. 

 “Lincoln had a cool mix of country and rock n roll to him, and after talking I could tell we would be on the same page. I was a fan of his guitar playing as well, but really came to know him as a producer,” Hiatt said via email. 

The first song on the album, “Rae,” starts off with just Hiatt’s voice in almost a whisper as she lightly strums her Rickenbacker piercing through the amp. Then, 50 seconds in, the song takes an unexpected turn as drums and an echoing slide guitar take hold of the song setting the tone for what is to come.

 “I just wanted the message to be vivid and clear. Once we pinned down ‘Rae’ I knew that was happening, and in my opinion that song kind of guided the sound,” Hiatt said.

“Trinity Lane” had more of an acoustic/rock feel to it as it had a very narrative songwriting style, but, with keeping some of the same themes and subjects, Hiatt plugs into the amp and lets it all out on “Walking Proof.” This album solidifies  Hiatt as one of those few artists who can do it all. Hiatt is able to have a mix between more of a traditional country sound like on the title track “Walking Proof” to the garage punk/rock sound in “P-Town” and her first single “Brightest Star.”

“I am happy with both takes, and I just let the songs navigate the sound,” Hiatt said.

“Some Kind of Drug ” dives into Hiatt’s unique ability to tell a story while still being able to leave room for the listeners’ own interpretation. Hiatt is accompanied on the song, for the first time on one of her albums, by her father, nine-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter John Hiatt on vocals. With three solo albums spanning over six years in her back pocket, Hiatt knew this was the song for her and her father.

“I chose that song because I knew he’d understand the sentiment, and have his own spin on it through his singing. He’s pretty low in the mix, and that’s actually kind of metaphorical in ways to me, in how he’s supported me but let me follow my own muse,” Hiatt said.

Hiatt doesn’t hide anything from her listeners. With the kind of voice that pushes boundaries and shows her rebellious side. In her slow and melancholic song “Drawl,” Hiatt pays tribute to her home and life in Nashville and everything that comes with it. 

“I hid behind my hair too. Told myself I’m nothing new,” Hiatt pens, but constantly reminds herself to “never lose that drawl again” as she pushes her voice out with pride of where she came from and of what she has endured in her past. 

“I don’t think I’m able to actually see the success of something until years later. Maybe that’s lucky for me in ways! I just wanted to make a great record,” Hiatt said.

“Walking Proof” validates Hiatt as one of the few that will be around for many records to come. 

Lilly Hiatt will be playing at The Mill in Iowa City, October 23, with opener Beth Bombara next fall. 


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