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JOHN HIATT —THE OPEN ROAD (New West)

www.newwestrecords.com www.johnhiatt.com
Yet another strong set of songs from John Hiatt, one of music’s survivors both physically and creatively —The Open Road offers arguably his most pure and edgy music in some time.

Aided by his road band of Kenny Blevins (drums), Patrick O’Hearn (bass) and Doug Lancio (electric guitar) all eleven tracks are new and with the likes of ‘Like A Freight Train’ imbued with rich, dusky flavours of the American South coupled with the hedonism of such rousing fare as the blues rocking ‘My Baby’ (that fires the passion in his voice and lyrics like nobody’s business) and rubber burning classic early rock‘n’roll sounding ‘Hauling’ Hiatt and the boys are in great form. This is Hiatt at his best; lyrically and instrumentally as he kicks down a few doors and gets to press one’s buttons —the latter with its simple, effective, 1950s rhythm he cranks it up like only he can as the innocence of youth is captured and the lid stamped down tight. With a voice that barks out the lyrics blue collar style, Hiatt is one of music’s greats and, like a good many of my heroes he inevitably sounds at his best when supported by a lean, keen and stripped down set of musicians.

The cast of personnel used totals just four (and sound like more) with those noted above plus himself who, produced the record playing acoustic, electric guitar and vocals. Recorded in a converted garage during the summer of last year Hiatt gained the inspiration for the album looking through the rear view mirror of life.
On utilising some splendid guitar grooves Hiatt speaks of the country of his birth on ‘Homeland’ and, with his tones possessing a pleading edge the listener can’t ignore him as he ploughs his furrow aided by some guitar riffs akin to the pioneering slick instrumental pop groups of the 1960s. For anyone who enjoys great electric lead guitar music of a full-bodied but tempered nature there is little need to look any farther. ‘What Kind Of Man’ takes few prisoners as he cranks it up and moves over to rock‘n’roll to ignite the flame of love and his passion to set the cornfield ablaze.

As for the mellow, river dredging of the soul he edges relatively slowly through ‘Fireball Roberts’ —that speaks of his love of feeling the road beneath him as he drives his 57 Ford and of how it compares to his love it spits and crackles without ever erupting into flames. Slightly keener and sparked with energy we have the reflective ‘Go Down Swingin’ —then with him looking at the lives close to him and have passed on ‘Movin’ On’ smoulders and evokes imagery of precious days kept on tap in his memory bank.

When it comes to the title track John goes down to the deep south for ‘The Open Road’ and never looks back, and with solid all-round musicianship, harmony vocals it has all that is required to utilise his foot-loose and rambling lyrics in the best possible way. Another to impress greatly is the restless, lead guitar fired ‘What Kind Of Man’ —containing the lyrics ‘I cheated on my love / I cheated on my taxes’ followed by ‘What kind of man do you think I am, babe/ One twist and I would do it all over again’. When it comes to writing songs about cars, women, true-life emotions and a burning desire of the road Hiatt is forever at the front of the grid.
Maurice Hope

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April 2018

1
Courtney Marie Andrews
100 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
PK,CVL,DHO,JB,LK
2
Mary Gauthier
59 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
3
Caleb Caudle
49 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
TJ,TK,MP
4
Western Centuries
48 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
DD,GS,FS,HM
5
Vivian Leva
44 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
 
6
Ed Romanoff
42 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
7
Grant Peeples
41 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental
AN
8
Joan Baez
32 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
 
9
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
29 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
MF,HDB
 
Sam Morrow
29 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
JV
11
Chris Smither
27 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
JSM,JD
12
Michael McDermott
26 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
CRS
13
John Prine
24 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
SP
14
Mary Chapin Carpenter
23 pts.
Sometimes Just The Sky
Lambent Light Records
 
15
Dean Owens
22 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
PJ
16
6 String Drag
21 pts.
Top of The World
Schoolkids Records
FCE,JS
 
Haley Heynderickx
21 pts.
I Need To Start A Garden
Mama Bird Recordings
 
 
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
21 pts.
Tearing At The Seams
Stax Records
RM
19
Abe Partridge
20 pts.
Cotton Fields And Blood For Days
Skate Mountain
MVP,RK
 
Adam James Sorensen
20 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
BM
 
Ben Reel
20 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
 
 
Chip Taylor
20 pts.
Fix Your Words
Train Wreck Records
LM
 
Kesia Nagata
20 pts.
Looking For Horses
Caramal Productions
GC,EZ
 
Sheesham & Lotus & 'Son
20 pts.
Clear The Table
SepiaPhone Records
SZ,PG
25
3hattrio
18 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
 
 
Marlon Williams
18 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans

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