Thursday, May 29, 2008

Same Old Man

I love John Hiatt.

He's probably one of the best/consistent singer-songwriters...ever. I got into Hiatt after seeing him open for B.B. King out at Starlight (an awesome, though little-used outdoor venue in Kansas City). It was an amazing set--he was out promoting THE TIKI BAR IS OPEN (great, great album). Anyway, Hiatt stole the show that day and I've been following him ever since.

Pretty much everything he's put out since 2000/2001 has been quality. His last album, 2005's MASTER OF DISASTER is still in rotation when I take trips across the state. So, when I heard he had a new album coming out--I was excited. SAME OLD MAN is not a bad record, it's just a poor Hiatt album.

Don't get me wrong, there is plenty to like--the bluesy shuffle of "Old Times" (which is a nice story/song about his early career) and the title track "Same Old Man" are two great tracks. Love them. But SAME OLD MAN suffers from too many low-tempo love songs: "Our Time," "Two Hearts," and the borderline annoying "On With You" which has Hiatt repeating over and over--"I just wanna go on with you."

I was really saddened by how lackluster some of the writing was, too. MASTER OF DISASTER had some incredibly memorable lyrics (the title track's poetic wordplay still pops into my head from time to time). SAME OLD MAN has a few stand-out moments, like in the albums best love song "Let's Give This Love a Try" where Hiatt sings "I’d rather be in a barrel of salt and pickle brine with a 1000 paper cuts" That's so crazy I couldn't help but smile.

I don't mind the sleepier side of John Hiatt, I just whish he'd bring his A-material if all we're going to get are slower ballads. Again, I'm a perhaps I'm judging him too harshly. Forgetting his other decades of success, during the past 8 years Hiatt hasn't (in my opinion) put out a "bad" record...that said, I think this one could have used a little more punch. Musically and lyrically--I found it to be Hiatt's weakest outing since I starting following him.

Not what I'd encourage new listeners to start with (THE TIKI BAR IS OPEN or CROSSING MUDDY WATERS is where you should begin, unless you just want to buy the GREATEST HITS CD). Still, it's admirable that unlike most of contemporaries Hiatt is still writing and recording new music, rather than relying on his past hits.

I still love John Hiatt, I just wasn't blown away by this album.

Jason gives SAME OLD MAN a "C+".


Anonymous said...

I'll have to look for this one for Father's Day. Husband is a BIG fan of John Hiatt.

We were at that same BB King concert...

Jason said...

That is so cool you guys were at that show.

Yeah, I mean if he loves Hiatt he needs to own this record...but I still don't think it ranks with his best work.