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Album review: John Hiatt's 'The Open Road'

March 1, 2010 |  7:08 pm

John_Hiatt_240_  John Hiatt's music has frequently had issues of family at or near the core. That's true of his latest album, but the perspective reaches beyond primary relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, to take on bigger questions of heritage and legacy.

That's a big chunk to bite off, but as one of rock's most astute singer-songwriters of the last 40 years, Hiatt brings considerable insight and his characteristic wry humor to the task.

At 57, Hiatt doesn't have much time for boy-meets/loses-girl scenarios. He's sharing the explorations of a man recognizing his weaknesses ("Like a Freight Train") and acknowledging his debt to those who've come before ("Homeland") on the way to discovering his core values ("Go Down Swingin' "). 

Not that he bypasses the four-letter word that is "love." In "What Kind of Man," as he's been throughout his estimable career, he's far more interested in plumbing his own nefarious attitudes than finding someone else on whom to affix blame for his troubles: "You see the man who loves you/You see the man you love/But I have hidden claws/Inside these gloves."

This bluesy, heartland-soaked musical excursion features meaty support from guitarist Doug Lancio, bassist Patrick O' Hearn and drummer Kenneth Blevins, wittily informed nods to such influences as Chuck Berry, the Rolling Stones and Willie Dixon and plenty of the rock soulfulness that's integral to the sound he's been honing for decades.

-- Randy Lewis 

John Hiatt
"The Open Road"
New West
Three stars (Out of four) 

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