Album Review: Lilly Hiatt – Trinity Lane

As most people over thirty understand, life never turns out how you thought it would. It can be pretty devastating to see your dreams disappear or have that precious relationship die. On Lilly Hiatt’s new album Trinity Lane she turns her disappointments into beautifully ragged songs of experience. 

Produced by one half of Shovels & Rope, Trinity Lane has echoes of their unruly musical magic throughout. Hiatt sings alone, but she has fire enough for two. There are no pretentious ideas on this album (musically or lyrically), instead she exposes uncomfortable truths about her personal life. I realise what I’ve screwed up, she sings on The Night David Bowie Died, admitting she was a ‘bitch‘ and things were ‘rough‘. You can’t help but sympathise with her brutal honesty.

All Kinds of People is a rumination on the separation and broken relationship that haunts this album. These are straightforward rock songs really, and that means she never wallows in sadness. Music is her way of making sense of things.

So too the title track, Trinity Lane. On this one she’s freely admitting her vices and temptations – the things that have fucked her up in the past. She ain’t judging anyone for their sins since she’s been in the gutter herself. Now she’s doing her best to live better, sleep better, work harder, have faith for a better future. It’s the catchiest and most charming song on the album.

Imposter is a song in communication with her father, exploring the impact of her mother’s death on them both. It feels almost too personal, like you’re eavesdropping on a private moment of grief. But full disclosure is what this album is about. Nothing can be held back, no matter how traumatic. After what we went through, I count on you. There’s strength in survival, in sharing your pain. Unsurprisingly hearing this song reduced her father, songwriter John Hiatt, to tears.

If you subscribe to that idea ‘Some people have lives; some people have music’ then Records is your next anthem. To be fair Eric Church has done something similar with ‘Record Year’ albeit in a more poppy way. I love the ‘that record waited up for me’ line and if you can’t relate to the idea that music can be your best friend or even save your life then you’re reading the wrong blog.

Different, I Guess is as close to country as you’ll find on the album. When her voice reaches for the line ‘I just love you more than anyone ever has’ the vocal crack tells you all you ever need to know about the desperation of the heartbroken. Rotterdam is her attempting to ‘kick this shit‘ and get over everything that has been dragging her down. In the end she finds a place of acceptance, and the final track ‘See Ya Later‘ signals an attempt to say goodbye to the past. As the song fades out you find yourself wishing her luck for the future, as if she’s your close personal friend.

Lilly’s Hiatt’s Trinity Lane might be a little lived in but who wants pristine pictures of perfection anyway? You could turn up here any night of the week and always be invited in. Kick off your boots, take a chair and turn the record up.

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