On October 12th, John Hiatt will release his first album in four years, The Eclipse Sessions, via New West Records. Hiatt’s 23rd studio release since introducing himself with 1974’s Hangin’ Around the Observatory, The Eclipse Sessions is streaming in its entirety below.
Hiatt recorded the album in Nashville over the course of just a few days in the summer of 2017, which happened to include the full solar eclipse that took place on August 21st. Never one to ignore the good fortune of a successful recording session, Hiatt titled the album after the otherworldly natural wonder.
Though Hiatt knew it was nearing time to release new material, he didn’t feel rushed, and went into the recording session with an open mind and a blank notebook. “It kind of came together in a serendipitous fashion,” he tells Rolling Stone Country. “It took me a little bit of time to get to this one. We actually recorded it last summer . But the way it happened, I was not sure what kind of recording I wanted to do, to be honest with you. I was thinking about doing a solo record, just me and acoustic guitar. So I didn’t really have a plan, in other words.”
“It was the day after my birthday, just coincidentally,” he says. “I hate naming records and never know what to call them, so I thought, ‘Oh, The Eclipse Sessions. That’ll work.’ But it seemed to fit the mood.”
Hiatt was joined in the studio by longtime drummer Kenneth Blevins and bassist Patrick O’Hearn, the three shooting for a stripped-down trio sound that would accentuate Hiatt’s vocals and distinct style of guitar playing. They recorded the album at the home recording studio of Kevin McKendree, with an engineering assist from McKendree’s musical whiz-kid son Yates. By the time the group finished a batch of 15 songs, Hiatt knew he had a new album on his hands.
“They just started sounding so good,” he says. “I felt like we’d made some really good music. The songs started hanging together. That’s when you start to feel like it might be worth other folks hearing, like you’ve got something that can connect with people. People used to ask Guy Clark, ‘When do you feel like it’s time to make a record?’ And he’d say, ‘Well, it’s when you feel like you have 10 good songs.’ So it’s kind of like that. You go in and you start recording, and when they start falling in place and hanging together, it starts to sound like a record.”
John Hiatt is currently on tour, with his next stop taking place in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 20th.