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Lilly Hiatt mixes country and rock at Mercury Lounge

BY EVERYNIGHT CHARLEY CRESPO | Lilly Hiatt received her first guitar, a 1953 parlor-size Martin acoustic, from her father, singer-songwriter John Hiatt, when she was 12 years old.

She wound up singing in the school choir and began performing solo in her senior year of high school. Shortly thereafter, she left the farm on which she was raised in Nashville, Tennessee, to attend university in Denver, Colorado. She graduated in 2006 with a degree in psychology. Music was already her calling, however.

(Photo by Everynight Charley Crespo)

While in university, she had joined fellow students in a jam band, Shake Go Home, and after graduation, the band moved to Nashville and recorded several EPs.

Hiatt then literally went in another direction and relocated briefly to Austin, Texas, where she recorded her debut 2012 album. She returned to Nashville in 2013. Hiatt released her fifth and most recent album, “Lately,” this past October.

Following an impressive set by the support act, the Harmaleighs, Hiatt climbed onstage, strapped on a guitar and, accompanied by guitarist Josh Halper, bassist Robert Hudson and drummer Luke Fedorko, started to rock the room.

At first, the concert seemed like it was going to be a country music show, but before long the band demonstrated that it was well-rooted in rock and roll. Hiatt bounced around the stage as Halper’s solos grew longer and more dynamic.

(Photo by Everynight Charley Crespo)

Hiatt sang in fine voice, and with an authenticity that hinted she had lived her quest-filled lyrics, seeking deeper meaning from an ordinary life. The lyrics, sometimes panoramic, studied loneliness and human behavior, a little bit dark, a little bit disturbed but nevertheless hopeful. At times, her recurring southern drawl gave the lyrics a tad more personality.

Hiatt’s music sounded like it might be too country for the rockers and too rocking for country music enthusiasts. Nevertheless, there is bound to be a wider audience of in-betweeners. Lilly Hiatt may yet make her mark in the music world.

For more of Everynight Charley Crespo’s coverage of the city’s music scene, check out The Manhattan Beat.

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