As its title captures perfectly, “Leftover Feelings: A Studio B Revival” — which will be shown by the 2022 Summer New Jersey International Film Festival, June 11 — is two things at once.
Leftover Feelings is the title of an excellent 2021 album that teamed singer-songwriter-guitarist John Hiatt with dobro master Jerry Douglas and Douglas’ band. RCA Studio B is where Leftover Feelings was recorded: The Nashville studio was the site of sessions where Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers, Dolly Parton and many others recorded hits from the ’50s to the ’70s, but now mainly functions as a historical site.
Leftover Feelings tells the story of the making of the album, and the decades-long history of the studio, while also offering overviews of Hiatt’s career and Douglas’ career, and giving a sense of what it was like to record an album in the middle of a pandemic.
That’s a lot to cram into one 73-minute film — especially with musicians such as Parton, Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett and Rodney Crowell given ample space to expound on all of the above — and I found myself wishing, at times, that the film would stay more focused on the album (and on the sessions themselves, instead of interview segments). Especially since the songs heard in the film — mostly in short excerpts only — are so inspired.
More than an hour into the film, co-directors Ted Roach and Lagan Sebert finally let us watch Hiatt, Douglas and Co. (guitarist Mike Seal, bassist Daniel Kimbro and fiddler Christian Sedelmyer) play a song, “Changes in My Mind,” all the way through. It’s a revelation. But the film is almost over.
And so I have mixed feelings about “Leftover Feelings: A Studio B Revival.” It leaves no doubt that the story of the album is worth telling. As is the story of the studio. And the stories of Hiatt’s and Douglas’ respective careers.
Just not all at once.
“Leftover Feelings: A Studio B Revival” will be available online June 11, and will screen at Voorhees Hall at Rutgers University in New Brunswick that day, at 7 p.m. Visit njfilmfest.com.
Here is the film’s trailer:
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