For the Record: John Hiatt – Mystic Pinball

I suspect that the two topics people get most tired of seeing here are (a) Hawkeye and (b) John Hiatt.

Too bad. This is the RROY Report. When you have your own blog, you can write about whatever it is you obsess about.

I wouldn’t have to write about Hiatt so much if he weren’t so prolific all of a sudden. Mystic Pinball is his 21st studio album and the third released in the last three years. Most artists at this stage in their career would slow down but then Hiatt has never been most artists.

I’m not big on the micro-segmenting of music that the music industry loves to do and Hiatt is one of those musicians who is hard to pinpoint. One minute he’s rock, then he’s alternative, then he’s country rock, then he’s Americana, it’s all meaningless labels to me. His latest has more of a grungy blues/rock vibe than his recent work.

I won’t lie to you — it took a long time for me to fall in love with this album. I still wouldn’t put it up there with the great Hiatt works but it’s still a very solid collection. Part of the problem may be that it starts off weaker than most Hiatt albums. A John Hiatt album usually launches with a killer opening track. “We’re Alright Now” is not a killer song. It’s good — it continues to grow on me — but he’s done much better.

We don’t get a truly great song until track four, but it’s worth the wait. “Wood Chipper” is a Southern Gothic tale of love, murder and a shopping list. Like all great Hiatt tunes it tells a story with humor, clever lyrics and a catchy chorus. It’s followed by my second favorite tune, the rockin’ “My Business.” Other highlights would be “One Of Them Damn Days” and “You’re All The Reason I Need.”


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