Lilly Hiatt
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Cuts The Deepest: Lilly Hiatt

By Matt Wickstrom

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After 18 months sitting on the sidelines, Lilly Hiatt is beyond thrilled to be back playing shows - even if performing in front of crowds again is taking a bit of acclimatisation.

“It’s taking some time to remember how to talk to and interact with an audience again after so much time away, but not in a bad way,” she says, as we chat over our call.

As with countless other artists, the pandemic took a huge mental toll on Hiatt. She was essentially stripped of her livelihood and the chance to seize the momentum generated from her album Walking Proof, released in late March 2020, less than two weeks into the global lockdown.

Much of the frustration, despair and helplessness stemming from those events - and a subsequent breakup - eventually became the foundation for her new album Lately, which was written entirely during the pandemic.

“I was really bummed about not getting to tour on Walking Proof, but I’m also grateful that I had the time I did to be still, because I’d never had that before,” said Hiatt. “It was enlightening and healing in its own way, despite the tragic circumstances of it all”.

During the time cooped up in her Nashville abode, Hiatt leaned heavily on the advice and wisdom of her father John Hiatt, who himself was busy crafting Leftover Feelings with the Jerry Douglas Band.

The conversations helped keep her grounded throughout the unprecedented times; she found gratitude in being able to make a living traveling around and playing music up until that point.

“I definitely still have my mopey moments, but I’ve been trying my best to find the beauty and grace, in a time of universal struggle”.

In addition to working on her own material, Hiatt is set to go on tour later this year with the Allman Family Revival, which includes the Allman Betts Band, Robert Randolph, Luther and Cody Dickinson (of the North Mississippi All-Stars) and Eric Gales, among others.

The 18-night tour will give Hiatt the opportunity to perform the music of one of her biggest influences, in a way that she’s never had the opportunity to prior.

“I’ve never toured playing music that wasn’t my own before, so I’m really looking forward to the experience,” says Hiatt. “It’ll be different, in a very refreshing way”.

Following the cassette release of Lately and on the run-up to the tour, Hiatt caught up with Holler to discuss the music and albums most dear to her heart for Cuts The Deepest. Listen to 'Lately' below.

Pearl Jam - No Code

Pearl Jam really show off all their different sides here. It’s kind of weird how they experimented on it, it was very garage rocky and grungy. It’s not lo-fi by any means, but it has the same sort of attitude to it, which I dig. It’s like they didn’t think too much about it.

The album shows off the broad scope of Pearl Jam’s sound and how they can do a lot of different things well musically.

The Cranberries - Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?

'Linger’ was the first I learned to play on the guitar. I briefly had a guitar teacher growing up who taught it to me. I mostly learnt how to play from reading guitar tabs off the internet, but he did help me with that.

I remember picking the song, him giving me the chords and me going off to learn it right away. ‘Dreams’ is another song that I love. It’s a really beautiful album. It rocks but it’s pretty, you know?

Ms Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

This is a really special album. Every song, from front to back, is a hit. I loved the Fugees already, then she released this. It's a declaration that's stood the test of time.

You can listen to it now and it still sounds like a million bucks. It still sounds fresh like it could be brand new today, over 20 years later. I love things that are timeless, beautiful, fun and passionate.

Neil Young - Harvest

Harvest is so beautiful, and it has ‘Heart Of Gold’ on it. It’s also got ‘The Needle And The Damage Done,’ ‘Out On The Weekend’ and ‘Alabama.’ It’s just a perfect album. I love that it’s 10 songs and that it came out in 1972, one of my favorite musical years. Not that I was around for that, but a lot of my favorite records came out in ‘72.

Some other records that I cherish from that year are The Rolling Stones’ ‘Exile On Main Street,’ Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Superfly,’ Steely Dan’s ‘Can’t Buy A Thrill,’ Joni Mitchell’s ‘For The Roses’ and the Allman Brothers Band’s ‘Eat A Peach’ (of course), to name a few.

Bob Dylan - Blonde On Blonde

I remember coming home from college in Denver for spring break one year. While there, I rode around in the car with my dad one night. It was a beautiful spring night and he played that record, really loud, in the car.

That was my first time hearing that album from start to finish. We had the windows down and the wind blowing in our faces. I was already into Bob Dylan, but this rockin’ side of him was new to me and something I really enjoyed. Ever since then, I’ve worn out and leaned on that album at different points in my life.

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Lilly Hiatt’s latest album, Lately, will be available digitally on Oct. 15 via New West Records.

Photography by Dylan Reyes