Review: John Hiatt and Jerry Douglas Elicit Emotion on ’Leftover Feelings’

John Hiatt with the Jerry Douglas Band/Leftover Feelings/New West
Four out of Five Stars

The ability to find perfect chemistry in a collaboration can’t be underestimated. When the partnership works in practice and not only on paper, it reflects the essence of what can be uncovered in a meeting of the minds. 

Proof of that proposition can he found in the current collaboration between John Hiatt and Jerry Douglas, each an iconic artist who’s proven himself well capable of ample individual accomplishment. It’s not that this combined effort necessarily takes them to a higher plain, or for that matter, sets a different or distinct standard, rather, it’s exactly the reason why Leftover Feelings succeeds to the extent that it does. Not only does it find a comfortable fit for both artists—Hiatt as the songwriter and Douglas as producer—but it’s mainly a work that simply allows both artists to do what they’ve always done best.

It simply boils down to the songs, all of which measure up to the high marks they consistently achieve on their own. “Long Black Electric Cadillac,” “Keen Rambler” and “Mississippi Phone Booth” are rustic rambles in the fine tradition of classic Hiatt albums like The Tiki Bar Is Open, Crossing Muddy Waters and Terms of My Surrender, efforts that found Hiatt casting his gruff persona into the vast expanse of heartland happenstance.

Likewise, on songs such as “The Music Is Hot,” “Light  of the Burning Sun,” “Sweet Dream,” “I’m in Asheville,” and “Changes in my Mind,” Hiatt taps into the tender trappings that’s generally found at the core of his more sentimental songs, particularly those that delve into remembrance and reflection. Douglas’ dobro and lap steel provide perfect accompaniment, and on a song such as “All the Lilacs in Ohio,” the vitality and enthusiasm offer but one obvious example.

Ultimately, Leftover Feelings doesn’t take either artist beyond their respective comfort zones. Yet, it is an outstanding album nevertheless, simply because it’s everything one would expect from a collaboration between the two. Above all, it succeeds in eliciting emotion, which is, by definition, the standard upon which most memorable music is judged. Given that measure, Leftover Feelings is both revealing and resilient indeed. 

Photo by Patrick Sheehan

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