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John Hiatt - Same Old Man
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On May 27, New West Records will release John Hiatt’s new full length album Same Old Man, his first album since 2005’s critically acclaimed Master of Disaster, of which The Washington Post declared “Hiatt has written some of the best melodies of his career,” and Time Out New York proclaimed “...his most vibrant and soulful album in years.” Same Old Man will also be available as a Limited Edition 180 gram vinyl record.
Same Old Man was recorded at Highway 61 Recordings and produced by John Hiatt. Appearing on the album are Kenneth Blevins on drums, Patrick O’Hearn on bass and Luther Dickinson on guitar, mandolin and national resonator. John’s daughter, Lilly Hiatt, sings harmony on the songs “Love You Again” and “What Love Can Do.”
John Hiatt’s career has spanned more than 30 years and his songs have been covered by everyone from Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, and BB King to Iggy Pop, Three Dog Night and The Neville Brothers. John Hiatt began his solo career with the 1974 album Hangin’ Around the Observatory. Hiatt’s landmark 1987 release Bring The Family received critical praise and was his first album to chart in the U.S. In 1993, Rhino Records released Love Gets Strange: The Songs of John Hiatt, which collected many of the cover versions of his songs that were recorded during the 80s and 90s. 2000’s Crossing Muddy Waters was released on the independent imprint Vanguard Records to critical acclaim and called “The most natural and relaxed John Hiatt album in years…”
Same Old Man may be the most accessible album of John Hiatt’s career. But it’s worth serious note that the rewards of hearing this album (repeatedly) far outweigh its simplicity and that’s due to the strength of the songs. Tunes such as “Cherry Red” and “Hurt My Baby” are just two instances in which the author turns the usual conceits of composition inside out.
Those songs don’t get much elaboration or decoration here. It’s easy to imagine Hiatt strumming out these tunes by himself on the folk circuit this summer (and beyond. The rhythm section of Kenneth Blevins on drums and Patrick O’Hearn on bass is merely subtle, authoritative emphasis to the author’s own self-effacing delivery of lyrics. Yet there is much more going on below the surface, on both those fronts, than a cursory listen may discern.
“What Love Can do,’ for instance, has more to do with acknowledging the passage of time in ourselves and others than a romantic epiphany. Similarly, “Ride My Pony” describes the sensation of the spontaneous joy of childhood even as the years go by. Bob Dylan’s influence has never been so obvious on John Hiatt as in “On With You”—where the verses resemble a re-write of “All along the Watchtower—“ or “Let’s Give This Love a Try”-- which sounds inspired by “Tangle Up in Blue”—but Dylan could never be so open as Hiatt is on those aforementioned songs.
The production of Same Old Man never calls attention to itself and neither does the musicianship: The North Mississippi AllStars’ Luther Dickinson (who with his brother Cody has toured and recorded with Hiatt in the past) displays dexterity comparable to his restraint as a guitarist; his fills are a less obvious echo of Hiatt’s R &B roots than the background vocalists of “On with You” while the dobro he plays, like the slight echo on Hiatt’s vocal during “Hurt My Baby,” is indicative of the small touches that make Same Old Man, simultaneously, so distinctive and so memorable.