Lilly Hiatt is no stranger to vulnerability, and uses it to build connections to those who listen to her heartfelt brand of rockicana. The twangy songstress is gearing up to release her intensely personal, autobiographical album, Trinity Lane, via New West Records on August 25th. Written mostly upon her return from a cross-country tour, Hiatt focused on sobriety, swore off men, and secluded herself in her apartment off Trinity Lane in East Nashville to face some issues through what she does best, songwriting.
“There were some songs I’d written a while ago, but the majority of the songs were written in a pretty concentrated period of time, in my apartment last summer,” she remembers. “I was writing those songs to mentally gain some confidence; I’d been in a really vulnerable spot, and I really leaned into my songwriting to help me get through it. I really didn’t know what else to do. It’s a very fulfilling purge,” she laughs, “though that seems like an oxymoron, and a weird thing say. A lot of the songs on Royal Blue were about me lamenting things,” she notes of her 2015 release. “There was some finger-pointing going on. On Trinity Lane, it grieves and turns inward,” she continues. “The heartbreak is still a part of it, but there’s accountability for me there.”
Trinity Lane, with track sequencing configured by her father, John Hiatt, and her love of grunge and 90s alt-rock laced throughout, Hiatt gives us full-tilt, soul-baring storytelling. “It’s a little scary sometimes; there are a few of the songs I’ve even sung at band practice and was a little like ‘oh god, this feels really weird.’ I’ve seen the way my bandmates look at me me when we’re playing sometimes,” she says with a laugh. “It comes pretty naturally to me to just say what I feel though. It can be scary to put that on the line, especially when there’s a potential for people to be like ‘this sucks!’ and you’re like ‘but that’s my heart!’ But I try not to think about that too much,” Hiatt adds. “It’s the most rewarding thing to stay true and follow my path.”
Hiatt joined forces with Michael Trent, producer and one-half of acclaimed duo Shovels & Rope, to record Trinity Lane over a two week period in Johns Island, South Carolina where Trent and his wife/bandmate Cary Ann Hearst live. “He’s a really talented and tapped-in guy,” Hiatt says. “He and his engineer, Andy Dixon—who I always shout out, because engineers are such an important part of the process and they don’t always get the recognition they deserve—made everything shine. It was one of the best times I’ve ever had,” she remembers. “It was great to check out of life as I know it and focus solely on making a record. One of the many cool things about Michael was, he really listened to me, and he trusted me,” she continues. “As a result, I trusted him, and that made my guard come down, and there was all this creative potential that was easily accessible. Michael also likes rock n’ roll, but he’s a songwriter too, and he really paid attention to the lyrics,” she adds. “He put it all together in this beautiful, tight package.”
Hiatt will soon be tearing up the highways to courageously share her heart through this album with folks from sea to shining sea. “It’s exciting and scary to put out a record. You’re always hoping in the back of your mind that this is ‘the one,’ whatever that means,” she reveals. “I think I know a little better now to not base all of my self-worth on the album I put out. I want people to like it, but I can’t control others’ perceptions of my music. I try to focus on things I can control—treating my bandmates well, putting on a great live show, and working really hard. It’s a gradual climb, and I’m sticking to it,” she says. “I’m all in.”