Lilly Hiatt’s an old soul, a young woman wise beyond her years. Listen. You’ll hear.
Hiatt’s songs back equal measures edge (“3 Days”) and energy (“Big Bad Wolf”) with stunning lyrical elegance. Clear evidence: The Nashville resident’s buoyant Let Down. Hiatt’s seamless debut fortifies earthy (“Master”) and ethereal narratives (“Oh Mister”) with storytelling as sharp as a seasoned songwriter (“Young Black Rose”). Youthful restlessness guides the journey. “There was a self-loathing theme throughout all those songs, hence the title,” the 28-year-old explains. “It had a lot to do with being in the first half of my twenties and being in this transition from child to grownup. It’s kind of like hitting puberty again.”
If discovery defines early adulthood, Hiatt certainly spent fair time seeking out songwriters far and wide to shape her own vision. “John Prine’s always a good place to go for inspiration for writing,” she says. “I really like early Liz Phair and Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt and Neil Young and I’m obsessed with Pearl Jam.” Accordingly, the rapidly rising songwriter’s new collection soars with wild diversity. Hiatt moves and grooves between country-folk (“Championship Fighter”) and gnashing Crazy Horse rock and roll (“Angry Momma”) with an ease that boldly suggests all songs arrive branded within a single and uncompromising genre: Music.
“When people ask me, I usually end up saying I play ‘spacey country,’” she says, “but the lyrics and the band aspect are equally important to me. To me, it’s just singer-songwriter stuff with an emphasis on the band. I guess I’d put it in the indie or Americana or country category, but I’m just as big a fan of rock and roll. That’s what I’m trying to get at eventually.” Either way, Hiatt’s endless lyrical and musical searching scarcely wavers throughout Let Down.