Album Review: John Hiatt with the Jerry Douglas Band, ‘Leftover Feelings’

Three songs into this match made in musical heaven, the breezy “The Music is Hot” wafts in on gently swaying Caribbean rhythms, serving as a kind of the theme song for the rest of the album, celebrating the joys of music with laid-back melodies and playful lyrics that nod and wink at moments in music history: “WSM/On your transistor radio/A song about trains/You can hear that whistle blow.” John Hiatt teams up with Jerry Douglas and his band—Daniel Kimbro on bass, Mike Seal on acoustic and electric guitars, Christian Sedelmyer on violin, Carmella Ramsey on background vocals—to revel in reeling, rollicking propulsive road rock, swirling bluegrass, and funky blues.

The album launches with Commander Cody roadster rocker on “Long Black Electric Cadillac,” riding along Douglas’ jet-fueled dobro whipsawing around Sedelmyer’s high octane fiddle runs. The spirit of Chuck Berry rides shotgun with Hiatt and the band on this raucous rocker. “Mississippi Phone Booth” shimmers and slides along a ghostly acoustic Delta blues vibe, while sparkling bluegrass rambler “All the Lilacs in Ohio” blossoms spryly into a rocking instrumental bridge, evoking the transparent sheen of wistfulness over a scene from our youth (or any time in our lives, for that matter). The sonic sparseness of “Lights Burning Out” convey the enduring grief over Hiatt’s brother’s suicide; the intertwining dobro, fiddle, and guitar open up an emotional spaciousness that envelops us. The frantic guitar-driven “Keen Rambler” mimics the peripatetic walker of the song who walks all over town and can’t sit still, while “Little Goodnight” roams along a floating blues rock vibe. The album closes with the crystalline cascading guitars of “Sweet Dream.”

Leftover Feelings leaves no feelings behind, steering us through the heights of joy, the depths of sadness, the anxiety of ambivalence, and the vagaries and rewards of love.

Leftover Feelings is available HERE.




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