Lilly Hiatt Doesn’t Let Down Diverse Music Fans

Today’s new music discovery: Lilly Hiatt & the Dropped Ponies.

Her songs convey equal measures edge and energy with decided lyrical elegance. Clear evidence: The Nashville resident’s buoyant album Let Down. Hiatt’s seamless debut fortifies earthy and ethereal narratives with sharp storytelling. Youthful restlessness leads the journey.

“There was a self-loathing theme throughout all those songs, hence the title,” the 28-year-old explains. “It had a lot to do with being in the first half of my 20s and being in this transition from child to grownup. It’s kind of like hitting puberty again.”

Hiatt spent fair time seeking out songwriters far and wide to shape her own vision.

John Prine‘s always a good place to go for inspiration for writing,” she says. “I really like early Liz Phair and Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt and Neil Young, and I’m obsessed with Pearl Jam.”

Accordingly, her new collection boasts wild diversity. Hiatt moves between country-folk and gnashing Crazy Horse-style rock ‘n’ roll with an ease that boldly suggests all songs arrive branded within a single and uncompromising genre — music.

“When people ask me, I usually end up saying I play ‘spacey country,'” she says, “but the lyrics and the band aspect are equally important to me. To me, it’s just singer-songwriter stuff with an emphasis on the band. I guess I’d put it in the indie or Americana or country category, but I’m just as big a fan of rock ‘n’ roll. That’s what I’m trying to get at eventually.”

Sounds like an Americana songwriting icon whose composure, as Lilly sings, sometimes “turns to country gravel.” His name: John Hiatt.

Her bond with her father runs deep.

“My dad definitely serves as one of my biggest inspirations,” she says. “I really look up to him. I draw from his music. He’s my hero and always has been, and he’s very good for advice. When I was younger, he’d treat it more delicately, but now he shoots pretty straight with me. He doesn’t hesitate to give constructive criticism. He’s really supportive and sweet and roots for me.”