NEW HIATT: TRY IT
By DAN AQUILANTE
JOHN HIATT & THE GONERS “Beneath This Gruff Exterior”
Most couldn’t pick John Hiatt out of a lineup if he was colored as blue as his songs, but his low-key, gruff persona hasn’t kept the likes of Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt from tagging and covering his tunes for their albums.
On his tuneful and well-named bio-disc “Beneath This Gruff Exterior,” Hiatt takes a couple of steps forward while looking back at life.
He’s just turned 50, has made 20 albums over the last 30 years and on this rockin’, bluesy, twanging mutt of a record, he proves he’s too young to die but old enough to gripe.
Right up front, on the opening track “Uncommon Connection,” Hiatt shouts to a double-time rock tempo, “Well I do my best work sitting on my a- -, sitting here waiting for things to pass.”
From the vantage of his porcelain throne, he sings about people who rush to the future and others who run from the past, and how he’s found a separate peace.
The songs all rock and the lyrics smartly grasp the writing technique that if you keep the ideas simple, you can achieve universal appeal.
Most great songwriters work this way, so it isn’t surprising that when “The Nagging Dark” or “Missing Pieces” play, you’re apt to credit Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen instead.
But the music here is all Hiatt.
Some kids might appreciate this album for its fine rock, blues and country treatments, but the nothing-is-easy lyrics will make these songs most appealing to those who’ve traveled long enough to have scars, tattoos and the knowledge that a fond memory might be made around the next turn in the road.
The only new CD out today that is worth mentioning!
NEW HIATT: TRY IT