John Hiatt: Same Old Man (Elite)

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John Hiatt: Hurt My Baby
John Hiatt: Same Old Man (Elite)

It has been two decades since John Hiatt hit a high profile with the albums Bring the Family and Slow Turning. But despite some fine albums since (and a few duffers) he seems to be missed by the spotlight and has now become one of those rock-country journeymen who is more respected than actually listened to.
His Crossing Muddy Waters at the start of the decade gained him some good reviews (I didn't like it but it seems I was wrong) but that didn't translate into sales or much interest in subsequent albums like The Tiki Bar is Open (2001) and Master of Disaster (2005) which I thought were excellent.
So here he is back again and little has changed: the same soulful and emotional yelp on songs of wry humour or deep emotion, the same brittle musical delivery in places which references classic rock as much as country, a great band which includes Luther Dickinson on guitars . . .
So at one level this is "another year, another Hiatt album" but that diminishes the craftsmanship he brings to lyrics like the desperate love song On With You, the soulful ache of Hurt My Baby (which cries out for a soul-country cover by the likes of Solomon Burke), the pop-rock of Cherry Red which must sound great in bar, the slightly regretful tone of Our Time (c'mon Keith Richards, cover this), the title track  . . .
Don't be suckered by the self-deprecating album title. In this case it is actually a quality assurance.

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