People remember the ’90’s as grungy, and druggy; self-loathing, and insecure. We all wore flannel and did heroin while listening to Soundgarden. It was pretty great, except for the having to listen to Soundgarden part. There was another side to the ’90’s. Unequaled prosperity, homegrown terrorism, and the worst thing our President did was get blow jobs in the Oval Office.
There was also Lillith Fair. A female artist led traveling festival created in response to the male dominated Lollapalloza. Names like Sarah McLachlan, Paula Cole, The Breeders, PJ Harvey, and Liz Phair may not have been as well known as Pearl Jam or Nirvana, but they were damn sure as well known at the time as Alice In Chains or Mudhoney. Musical artistry wasn’t gender specific and women didn’t feel the need to degrade (empower?) themselves to succeed. The music was all that mattered. It was a different time.
If we had Lilith Fair today there is no doubt Lilly Hiatt and her ridiculously good band would be invited to perform. Hiatt’s exceptional second album Royal Blue is not a Country Music album. Hiatt blends influences uncommon in the typical folk/punk/country roots of so much Americana music we know and love. She creates something amazingly fresh and new. Royal Blue sounds like a lost ’90’s alternative rock treasure brimming with confidence, sultriness, and focused sense of purpose.
It may be Lilly Hiatt’s name on Royal Blue but it is very much a “band album”. The band’s sense of space and understated urgency forms the perfect backdrop for Hiatt’s subtle melodies and piercing lyrics. Seeing her live, my friend in the gorilla mask who had never heard them before said, “I love that drummer and his surfer beat!” Drunk gorilla was right. Hiatt and her band were tight. As tight as Houston and humidity.
Embracing influences from Lucinda Williams, Tom Petty, Pixies, and The Cure; Lilly blossoms into her own as an artist with no rules. I was fortunate enough to meet her and she’s a sweet Lady. But I can’t help but think she would say if she had the chance, “Hey, I’m an artist and I love you and I appreciate you if you are willing to follow me on my artistic journey, but if you want to pigeon hole me into something you THINK I should be…well…Fuck you”…We are with you Lilly. See you next time. You bring the songs and fun, we’ll bring the gorilla and patchouli. Essential Listening.
Lilly Hiatt is Rock/Country/Alt/Indie
Royal Blue by Lilly Hiatt is Essential Listening.