Courtesy of Normaltown Records
The daughter of singer-songwriter John Hiatt, singer-songwriter Lilly Hiatt, who performs with Aaron Lee Tasjan and Taylor Lamborn at 8 p.m. on Thursday at the Beachland Tavern
, has had mixed experiences when she’s performed in Cleveland in the past.
“I have had two shows, both opening for acts bigger than myself,” she says via phone from her Nashville home. “One show, they hated me and one they loved me. Early in 2011, I opened a show for my dad. I was so nervous. It was at House of Blues. It was just an odd evening. They didn’t hate me, but it didn’t go over great. Then, I played at Lakewood Civic two years ago and opened for Jewel and it was really great. It was really fun.”
Does she think her dad’s audience is maybe getting older and surlier?
“He has some awesome fans,” she says, “but I want to build my own fans. Of course, I do. I get some cool 55-year-old dudes show up at my shows in a John Hiatt shirt. It’s awesome. They’re into music and they like raw lyrics. In any crowd, there’s always people who just want to see the headliner. It’s fine but it’s a little bit of a bummer because you can feel when an audience is open to you or not. It doesn’t always revolve around how good a job you’re doing.”
It’s easy to like Hiatt’s sophomore record, Royal Blue
, which was produced by Adam Landry (Deer Tick, T. Hardy Morris, Diamond Rugs). Her music recalls feisty female singers such as Lydia Loveless, Sharon Van Etten and Jenny Lewis, and the moody songs have plenty of twang to them as many of them feature pedal steel guitar. The 12-track collection also reveals Hiatt’s love for acts such as the Breeders and Pixies.
“I’ve liked those bands for a long time,” she says. “When I was a kid, my brother was at the right age for all that stuff. I was a little young for it. He got me into all that cool indie rock. The Breeders were one of my first favorites. They’re just girlie and cool. Everyone who made [Royal Blue] was a product of the ’90s heyday whether we gravitated toward the music or not. When we were making the music, our ears dug some of that back up. Not even intentionally. I think it’s an inspiration.”
Hiatt has said her new album is thematically about “accepting the sadder aspects of life and finding some peace in them.”
“I think that when I said that, I meant the songs are about growing up,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be a heavy thing, but you come to some stark realizations. There’s some lessons that are learned. Everything is not so black and white and you have to be alright with it. That wasn’t the theme I intended to make throughout the album but it shows up because that’s where I was at when I made the album. I think a lot changed for me during the couple of years I got those songs together. It wasn’t horrible changes. It’s just growing up. You deal with painful things because you expose yourself to some painful things. You learn how to deal with them better.”