On the surface, it might seem as though the only traits that bond Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt are their singer/songwriter status and their gender. Hiatt (pictured) is a Midwesterner, born in Indianapolis, whose earliest Folk/Rock leanings — his debut, Hangin’ Around the Observatory, was released in 1974 — gave way to a New Wave sensibility which morphed into an increasingly rootsy Americana direction.
By contrast, Lovett is a Texan from the top of his Eraserhead coif down to the toes of his armadillo boots. While his debut album in 1986 was initially embraced by Country radio, his subsequent turn toward more eclectic sounds (Western Swing, Blues, Pop, Jazz, Gospel) found a more receptive audience at college radio.
Lovett ultimately returned to a more Country atmosphere with 1994’s I Love Everybody, which scored him a Grammy for Best Country Album.
Still, you don’t have to dig too far to find the similarities that make perfect sense of the current Hiatt/Lovett solo acoustic tour. They have both made their reputations as eclectic genre benders, preferring to allow the feel of their songs to dictate their ever-evolving musical surroundings rather than force their songs into a label-defined pigeonhole. They both use a combination of sly humor (Hiatt’s “Little Head,” Lovett’s “Creeps Like Me”) and heartbeaking emotion (Hiatt’s “When We Ran,” Lovett’s “She’s Already Made Up Her Mind”) in their songwriting, resulting in albums that inspire equal amounts of laughter, tears and reflection. And both John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett have delightfully skewed visions of what constitutes a love song.
This could most certainly be one of the best shows of the year.
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)