Top critical review
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3.5 Stars for this "Angry Young Man"-styled effort
on December 4, 2006
I read about John Hiatt in a magazine and I snatched up this release after finding it for cheap. The publication claimed that this was marketed as a "US Costello." To me, it seems like that description works.
The album itself is a brief affair. Most songs fall short of the 3 minute mark. They're, for the most part, spiky vignettes that blend into acerbic little rock and roll numbers. Fast, untreated drums and trebly guitars are the norm. Remember Joe Jackson's "Look Sharp!"? Well, that's the kind of production that these songs boast. This approach suits them well, since it allows them to function as fiercely independent tales that pop up and later fizzle out.
There are also some songs that deviate from the formula. The title track uses treated organs, a slower tempo and subdued guitars. But it still works. "Madonna Road" is a pseudo-reggae song that only the late-70s new wavers could've concocted. "Long Night" takes a similar tempo and applies it onto a looser approach. "Take of Your Uniform" is a bit of a touching number thanks to the organ texture.
But why the 3(.5) stars? Well, Hiatt's voice is rather irritating. The songs might have appealing rough-edges and the lyrics might work alright, but his voice doesn't do it for me. It's rather nasaly and whiny, and not in a good way.
If you're a fan of the man's work, buy this. If you like late-70s Costello or Joe Jackson, buy this. If you're just curious about this sort of music, give those two Angry Young Men a shot before purchasing this album.