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Written during a winter of deep stillness and self-reflection, Lilly Hiatt’s striking new album, ‘Walking Proof,’ artfully balances the songwriter’s rough, rock and roll exterior with her tender, country roots, exuding a bold vulnerability as she takes a long, hard look in the mirror and deconstructs her relationship with herself and the world around her. Produced by former Cage the Elephant guitarist Lincoln Parish and featuring guest appearances from Amanda Shires, Aaron Lee Tasjan, and legendary songwriter John Hiatt (who appears on record with his daughter here for the very first time), the collection is fueled by longing and gratitude in equal measure, effortlessly shifting from gentle intimacy to brawny grit and back over the course of its eleven insightful tracks. Despite all the weighty themes, ‘Walking Proof’ still manages to emerge as a work of hope and optimism, offering both a newfound maturity and an abiding sense of calm in the face of chaos as Hiatt learns to make peace with just how much of life lies beyond her control. “It’s crucial to live and let live, to be able to accept things for what they are,” says Hiatt. “Coming to terms with those sorts of boundaries has inspired a lot of growth in me lately, and I’ve realized that it leads to better outcomes both in relationships and in art. Things seem to bloom if you can just get out of your own way for long enough.” Things have been blooming for Hiatt in a big way lately. In 2017, she released her acclaimed third album, ‘Trinity Lane,’ a commercial and critical breakout that helped establish her as one of the leading voices to emerge East Nashville’s embarrassment of musical riches. Produced by Shovel & Rope’s Michael Trent, the record earned Hiatt dates with the likes of John Prine, Margo Price, Drive-By Truckers, and Hiss Golden Messenger among others, and helped her secure festival slots everywhere from Pilgrimage and High Water to Luck Reunion and Wildwood Revival. NPR called the album “courageous and affecting,” while The Independent raved that it showcased Hiatt’s “gift for unpicking knotty lyrical themes in a personalised blend of countrified rock music,” and Rolling Stone hailed it as “the most cohesive and declarative statement of the young songwriter’s career.”
The Harmaleighs have crafted a sophomore record that exists beyond the boundaries of any one genre. At times, the album is loud and tenacious while other moments require a more vulnerable cadence. It’s a new path for the Nashville pair, but it remains rooted in their respective roles. Haley Grant who takes on lead vocals and guitar, often pushes melodies to a more raw and tender edge while Kaylee Jasperson, on bass and backup vocals, guides the heartbeat and overall structure of the music. Past versions of the band have been sparser, but the group’s newest album calls for a bigger backing. The record, titled She Won’t Make Sense explores new territory in sound and subject matter. The latter deals directly with Haley’s mental health, documenting the many forms depression can take. Opening tune, “Anthem for the Weak” introduces Haley’s anxiety, which she named Susan. It’s a preview of what’s to come, as the record continues like a conversation between the two. “The whole album is me talking to Susan or Susan acting on my behalf,” says Haley. “It’s that dialogue with your inner self and how at times it feels like that inner voice has more control over you than you do.” Musically, the track opens with a Wurlitzer-esque melody that feels bright yet disconcerting. That kind of juxtaposition is found throughout the entire arc of the record, and is something the two intentionally played with: “We definitely wanted the musical aspect of it to make you feel anxious.”