Music & Nightlife

Second-gen Nashville songwriter Lilly Hiatt digs deep on acclaimed new album

Lilly Hiatt
Lilly Hiatt

On her acclaimed third album, “Trinity Lane,” second-generation Nashville singer-songwriter Lilly Hiatt wears her love of music (and her heart) on her sleeve. Songs like “The Night David Bowie” died and “Records” manage to address dysfunctional relationships while declaring the joy, solace and revelations embedded in the grooves of your favorite albums.

“When I was writing these songs, it was a means of keeping myself afloat,” says Hiatt, daughter of music veteran John Hiatt. “I’d been through a good chunk of life and needed a home for all those emotions. That’s what writing is for me, usually. It’s a coping mechanism. Writing and my guitar was my buddy through this time. And the songs were just a place to sort through some stuff.”

Hiatt, who returns to Evening Muse Saturday, doesn’t gloss over the hard stuff – quitting drinking, quitting bad relationships. She sings of sobriety and the bond she shared with her father following her mother’s suicide when she was a baby. She also sings of the place music can fill – much like a dependable pet – when people fail you.

“It’s always there when I get home,” she explains of the song “Records.” “I can crank it up and get a lift and feel safe, accepted and loved through the records I loved. There are bands I’ve grown up with who have been there for me my whole life. The record waited up when the guy didn’t. It’s as simple as that.”

As a kid, Hiatt would raid her older brother’s grunge cassettes for the Breeders and L7. She heard Liz Phair’s “Whipsmart” riding home from elementary school in the back of her parents’ car.

“I remember thinking how cool it was. Here’s this woman talking about sex, lust and being pissed off, and people are into it,” she says. “That definitely impacted me as an emotional little kid with more feelings than I knew what to do with.”

Twenty-some years later, she’s seeing brash female artists rising to the top of her own genre.

“It blows my mind. I have some female friends that are pretty successful. I know girls who are doing great stuff and people are really being floored by them,” she says. “It’s inspiring – Amanda Shires, Margo Price, Angel Olsen, Courtney Barnett – they’re powerful and unfiltered.”

The new album, “Trinity Lane,” was recorded by Shovels & Rope’s Michael Trent, who let Hiatt’s inner rocker shine.

“I like to look for people that want to get a little provocative with things, whether it’s louder guitars or letting me say the cuss words I want to say,” she says. “He’s not afraid to walk on the edge.”

When she wonders if a lyric is too vulnerable, she veers toward the truth.

“Someone might need to hear that,” she says. “That’s not the starting point, but the reason I think I make music and want to play it – aside from a means of digesting things – is it’s the way I feel connected to other people. I love for someone to find solace in my lyrics. That’s what music has done for me.”

Lilly Hiatt

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St.

Tickets: $10-$12.

Details: 704-376-3737; www.eveningmuse.com.

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