JOHN HIATT

THE OPEN ROAD

2010-03-03

After 2008’s somewhat listless "Same Old Man" John Hiatt returns to form with this disc. Not only does the disc pack a muscular musical punch, compliments of Kenneth Blevins on drums, Doug Lancio on electric guitar and Patrick O’Hearn on bass, it features some of Hiatt’s sharpest writing in years. When he’s on his game he’s almost peerless in his ability to conjure up images that stick with you. Take "The Open Road" with its reference to “Midnight falling like a bag of bones” and you get the idea real soon that it is a road to nowhere. Likewise, you can easily imagine the hard edged girl that “puts her hairspray on with a lit cigarette in her mouth/Takes her fingernail polish off Speeding down some rural route” on "My Babe" or the ghosts who get no rest in "Homeland" because “You can’t bury anything, men or nations/Old memories, old vibrations/The pain doesn’t stop just because the killing ceased”. Elsewhere, he reveals he’s not all he seems to be on the rocking "What Kind of Man" and channels both Dylan and Petty on "Go Down Swinging". As with most Hiatt discs, he also explores the rocky path faced by most relationships. While he broods about lost opportunities on the blues grinder Like a "Freight Train" and the stark "Wonder of Love" and kisses off another relationship on "Fireball Roberts" he also affirms that all is not lost in love. On "Haulin’" he liberates a Benjamin from a club owner and rushes to his baby for some hot loving and on "Carry You Back Home" he finds the courage to return the love he gets. Overall, a stellar release that should stand tall against his already solid catalog of great songs. Smitty

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