John Hiatt – The Open Road

January 01, 1970

(New West)


In a career spanning more than three decades, John Hiatt has
proven himself one of America’s
most astute songwriters, if not one of the most prolific. Saucy, incisive and a
knowing observer of the human condition, he adroitly blends irony, insight, and
more than a hint of self-deprecation in songs teeming with memorable hooks and
ready refrains.  Hiatt’s vocals, as pliable
as molasses and imbued with a swampy snarl, help further define his often
feisty approach.


Hiatt’s latest in a seemingly non-stop progression of
essential albums affirms those attributes succinctly, and in so doing, provides
another memorable addition to his robust recorded catalogue.  Inevitably, it echoes both his earlier
efforts and the sound of some peers, from the ragged and raucous title track,
its reliable riff recalling his classic “Perfectly Good Guitar,” to the
parallel stance of John Fogerty and Muddy Waters surfacing in the expansive
blues of “Like a Freight Train” and “My Baby,” respectively. Within this mix, he
readily bares his soulful sentiments, another trait that helps map Hiatt’s
emotional environs.  That’s especially
evident on the assertive “Movin’ On,” a bittersweet tribute that praises his
parents’ support, and the longing entreaty that commands the album’s closing
track, “Carry You Back Home.” 


Riveting and compelling, The
Open Road
reflects the musings of a seasoned journeyman who seemingly can
do no wrong. Greatness is a relative term, but Hiatt effectively meets that
standard, regardless of how it’s defined.


“The Open Road,”
“Carry You Back Home,” “Like a Freight Train” LEE ZIMMERMAN



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