Same Old Man (New West)
John Hiatt's conversational lyrics sound off-the-cuff, which means they likely resulted from many hours of labour. The work was worth it, because Same Old Man ranks with the best music of Hiatt's 34-year recording career.
He sings about love in the opening round and love on the ropes, about food and paper cuts and doppelganger caterwauling. Same Old Man is sweet but not sentimental, tuneful, honest and very, very funny.
On his first release since 2005's fine Master of Disaster, Hiatt produced and engineered himself, and he puts his voice front and centre. As always, Hiatt sings like someone straining to complete the final set of the night at the local roadhouse. The raw vocals are a perfect match for such songs as Hurt My Baby, where pain is palpable as Hiatt delivers the chorus.
He's supported by bass, drums and Luther Dickinson, who plays guitar and mandolin and provides an ideal counterpoint to the vocals by making every note count. Hiatt's daughter, Lilly, contributes lovely harmony on two songs.
Dad delivers his droll lyrics as if they're throwaways, which makes them even better. I'm a long shot, baby, he sings. But they do come in. In fact, Same Old Man laps the field.
CHECK THIS OUT: On the hilarious opener Old Days, Hiatt reminisces about his early touring career and crossing paths with John Lee Hooker, Gatemouth Brown and other bluesmen. He concludes the memories aren't that sweet because I played practically free. --Associated Press
Same Old Man, John Hiatt (New West)
John Hiatt's career is long and checkered. After his first break of having Three Dog Night cover his song Sure As I'm Sitting Here, Hiatt emerged as a singer-songwriter with a particularly quirky edge.
When punk/new wave hit, he was heralded by some as an American Elvis Costello, but ignored by most. It wasn't until his 1987 album Bring the Familythat Hiatt finally got the recognition he deserved. Since that time, many other artists have had hits with his songs and Hiatt has become one of the cornerstones of Americana music.
Hiatt's latest album, Same Old Man, is about looking back. On the bouncy opening track, Old Days, Hiatt recounts his adventures opening for blues and jazz legends - sharing a room with Sonny Terry, Mose Allison commenting on his songs and John Lee Hooker sitting his two dates on the stage while Hiatt was playing his set: And that's called 'Evenin' son. I'm the headliner!
Hiatt's nostalgia is not mournful. Throughout other tracks Hiatt looks back at the best moments of a romance that has endured and looks ahead.
Hiatt has rarely released a bad collection of songs, but Same Old Man is one of the best of his career. Self-produced, the album is friendly and casual. North Mississippi Allstars' Luther Dickinson adds guitar chops. Hiatt's daughter Lilly Hiatt, adds harmony vocals on two of the best tracks and John's squirrely vocals sound better and happier than ever. Songwise, Hiatt may not be breaking new ground, but he never seems to strain for a good line. If he resorts to aphorisms, it simply sounds like natural conversation.
Sometimes being the same old man is a good thing. --Knoxville News Sentinel
When the book is finally closed on John Hiatt's fabulous career, it will only make sense for someone to etch the words Songwriter Supreme on the cover.
Hiatt has been just that for more than three decades, crafting masterpieces like 1987's Bring The Family, but more often just being the picture of consistency.
His easy-going, autobiographical writing style surfaces frequently here, starting with the twangy album opener Old Days, which recounts some of his early years on the road, including memories of stars like Sonny Terry and John Lee Hooker, the latter whom Hiatt vividly recalls as walking into a club in Washington with a woman on each arm.
This is primarily an acoustic-flavored recording, with Hiatt assisted by drummer Kenneth Blevins, bassist Patrick O'Hearn and multi-instrumentalist Luther Dickinson. Hiatt's daughter Lilly Hiatt provides sublime high harmonies on Love You Again, and the elegant What Love Can Do.
The man himself is a slight bit raspier than usual, notably on the Dylan-esque On With You, but not to worry, he's still singing with passion and clarity.
Hiatt's gift for crafting near perfect melodies is nearly unmatched and he delivers a dandy in Cherry Red, as well as on the shuffling Ride My Pony.But it is indeed the title track that provides some of the most vivid imagery and one that seems destined to be a classic.
Against Dickinson's mandolin, Hiatt sings of a long-time marriage that has endured plenty of trials and tribulations. He's particularly poignant when he sings, I'm still the same old man that you married way back when/(a) few less brain cells, a lot less hair/honey tell me do you still care?
As he states clearly, his love still stands and his loyalty endures. The same could be said for his relationship with his fans, for he's earned that loyalty 20 times over during his career. Hiatt may never be an American Idol but he remains an American treasure.
The album is also being released as a limited edition 180 gram vinyl record for all you vinyl junkies out there. --Springfield Republican