John Hiatt & The Jerry Douglas Band — Leftover Feelings New West Records
Sometimes putting two artists together that seems like a no brainer turns out to be magical and sometimes it turns out like mixing ketchup and ice cream – two things that are fantastic on their own but downright horrible when paired together. Fortunately for us the John Hiatt & Jerry Douglas Band collaboration falls into the magical category. I think the thing that struck me odd is they had never recorded together before. It seems like a such a natural organic happening that surely this could not be the first time they have worked together and yet, it is. Hiatt is an American treasure and Douglas can make his own valid claim to breathe the same rarified air. But you probably already know both to be true and that’s why you are hopefully still reading this.
Leftover Feelings, released a few weeks ago on New West Records, was like many things, delayed by the pandemic so I can only imagine how excited Hiatt & Douglas were walking into RCA’s famed Studio B. There is magic in the room and whether you believe it or not, when you stand were Elvis and a host of legends have stood it has to motivate you to bring your a -game and then some.
The collection kicks off with the romping “Long Black Electric Cadillac” with Hiatt’s whispery growl and Douglas’ dobro getting after it. “Mississippi Phone Booth” is one of my two or three favorite songs on the album. You can almost feel the beads of sweat rolling down the back of your neck as the guitars and dobro swirl around. This song is everything that is right about John Hiatt and the Jerry Douglas Band shows why they are so highly regarded. A welcome revisit is the new take on Hiatt’s The Tiki Bar is Open standout “All the Lilacs in Ohio”. I have loved this song for the past twenty years and didn’t think anyone could improve on the original especially given at how The Goners rocked it up but I may be wrong. Hiatt’s voice is a little thinner than it was but it plays nicely with Douglas and company. The violin, guitar and dobro make for such a glorious racket that I find myself just listening, relistening and grinning from ear to ear as I imagine the fun they had recording this track.
“I’m in Asheville” is a stunningly beautiful moment and deserves the listener’s undivided attention. “Light of the Burning Sun” is heartbreaking. When he was 11 Hiatt’s older brother committed suicide and this song explores what I can only imagine what an eleven year felt at the time, how a younger man dealt with the lingering aftermath and how an older man has come to grips with the horrific event. As if it was needed, the song reaffirms that we all have a tragedy that we carry around with us that, even years later, may still be as fresh as the day it happened.
I would love to see more albums come out of this union of talents. Hiatt’s voice blends so well with the approach Douglas and his band took that I keep wanting to hear how this project could continue to evolve in the future. 47 years since his first solo release on Epic Records John Hiatt continues to deliver the goods so here’s to enjoying this amazing album and looking forward to whatever comes next. https://www.johnhiatt.com/john-hiatt-with-the-jerry-douglas-band-leftover-feelings