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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

it's our kind of music
September 5, 2017
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

Sadly, AMPM Minimart has already coined the phrase "too much good stuff" - otherwise I definitely would've jumped on that one.  September marks one of the most generous months, and the Industry's last concerted gasp for releasing new music.  Over the next 30 days, we'll be graced with new stuff from Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton, Tim Barry, Hiss Golden Messenger, J Roddy Walston and so much more.  Like I always say, Too Much Good Stuff.

Thank you, Lilly Hiatt, for turning up your guitars on your new Trinity Lane CD.  Let's face it, it's practically impossible for a person of average awareness to not think about John Hiatt upon hearing daughter Lilly's songs.  It's the same for Justin Townes and Steve, for Lukas and Willie, etc.  It's not necessarily that Lilly Hiatt's music really sounds anything like her father's, but we're always keeping our ears open for the inheritance.  What is it that the younger generation is carrying forward from their forebears?

In Lilly Hiatt's case, it seems to be about the capacity to write great songs with just the right amount of personality and left-of-center humor.  Plus, there's that guitar.  It punches through nearly every song, either driving it forward or interrupting with a rude blast of colorful electricity.  Though Hiatt's songs haven't shaken loose the roots influence, that edge and attitude might bring to mind Lydia Loveless' more recent stuff (or even the confessional 90s rock of Liz Phair).

Songs like "All Kinds of People" demonstrate Hiatt's twang-friendly voice pushed to its natural limits. A great recurring guitar line recalls Ryan Adams: Spend a lot of time loving all kinds of people / But all kinds of people won't care for your heart .  Elsewhere, she sings of Eyes big as whole notes, with so much to say.   Much of Trinity Lane focuses on collecting the still sharp pieces of a shattered relationship.  On "The Night David Bowie Died", the singer has some choice words about her ex-, but never reaches a point of simply damning him. It's as though the song has caught Hiatt in the midst of taking stock rather than slaying demons.  Nevertheless, there seems to be a certain catharsis in her vocal and a release in the whirling psych pop bridge.

Hiatt's americana roots are more prominent in "Trinity Lane", a bar band rocker featuring a pounding piano and producer Michael Trent's unhinged electric solo:  I get bored so I wanna get drunk / I know how that goes. The title track addresses some of the chemical demons of her past, ghosts and angels that surface throughout the record.  Producer Trent and his Shovels & Rope partner Cary Ann Hearst provide some soulful vocals on "Everything I Had" - I spent all those nights feeling so guilty / For letting you near the ugliest parts of me.  There's an interesting and tentative balance happening on Trinity Lane, alternating between deeply felt absences and a burgeoning sense of identity.

On "Records" there is some hint at redemption, or at least comfort: I'll take lonely if it means free.  The music that matters to us provides solace and strength, an abiding presence that neither judges nor proves faithless.  It's among the CD's more redeeming moments, songs that push boundaries and favor the rock and pop elements in Hiatt's repertoire to shine through her roots.

Fact is, I'm sure many of these second-gen artists are less than thrilled with the mention of their parents in just about any review.  Lilly Hiatt's Trinity Lane absolutely succeeds on the strength of its own obvious merits - the bright energy, the sharp edge and the revelatory smarts.  It's a collection that finds her stretching in new sonic directions, accessing a fearlessness and self-definition that will assure her relevance for future work.  It's the rare album where a good amount of inner reflection reveals itself not in quiet, but rather in some worthy commotion and soul cleansing racket.

- Middle Brother, "Blue Eyes" Middle Brother  (Partisan, 11)
- Deer Tick, "Jumpstarting" Deer Tick Vol. 2  (Partisan, 17)
- Dan Auerbach, "Stand By My Girl" Waiting On a Song  (Nonesuch, 17)
- Legendary Shack Shakers, "Curse of the Cajun Queen" After You've Gone  (Last Chance, 17)
- Hiss Golden Messenger, "Domino (Time Will Tell)" Hallelujah Anyway  (Merge, 17)  D
- Iron & Wine, "About a Bruise" Beast Epic  (Sub Pop, 17)
^ Lilly Hiatt, "Records" Trinity Lane  (New West, 17)
- Ian Felice, "Road to America" In the Kingdom of Dreams  (New York Pro, 17)
- Anna Tivel, "Dark Chandelier" Small Believer  (Fluff & Gravy, 17)j
- Mount Moriah, "Swannanoa" Miracle Temple  (Merge, 13)
- Will Hoge, "This Ain't An Original Sin" Anchors  (Edlo, 17)
- Texas Gentlemen, "Habbie Doobie" TX Jelly  (New West, 17)
- Moot Davis, "What's the Matter With Me" Hierarchy of Crows  (Wilburn, 17)
- Great Peacock, "Making Ghosts" Making Ghosts  (This is American Music, 15)j
- Joseph Childress, "Virginia Bound" Joseph Childress  (Empty Cellar, 17)
- David Wax Museum, "Your Mother the Ghost" Electric Artifacts  (Mark of the Leopard, 17)  D
- Elliott BROOD, "Dig a Little Hole" Ghost Gardens  (Paper Bag, 17)
- Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer, "Into My Arms" Not Dark Yet  (Silver Cross, 17)
- Ronnie Fauss, "Saginaw Paper Mill" Last of the True  (Normaltown, 17)
- Ron Pope, "Dancing Days" Work  (Brooklyn Basement, 17)
- Erin Enderlin, "Jesse Joe's Cigarettes" Whiskeytown Crier  (Blue Slate, 17)  D
- My Politic, "Bored Young Ghost" 12 Kinds of Lost  (My Politic, 17)  D
- Wynntown Marshals, "Low Country Comedown" After All These Years  (WM, 17)
- Whiskey Shivers, "No Pity in the Rose City" Some Part of Something  (Clean Bill, 17)
- Kacy & Clayton, "White Butte Country" Siren's Song  (New West, 17)  D
- William the Conqueror, "Pedestals" Proud Disturber of the Peace  (Loose, 17)
- John Murry, "Wrong Man" Short History of Decay  (Latent, 17)
- Jessica Lea Mayfield, "Meadow" Sorry is Gone  (ATO, 17)
- Clem Snide, "Messiah Complex Blues" Your Favorite Music  (snideco, 00)
- Delines, "Gold Dreaming" Scenic Sessions  (El Cortez, 15)

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