Beneath The Gruff Exterior

Release Date: 
May 6, 2003
Label: 
New West Records
Release Type: 
Album
  1. My Baby Blue
  2. Almost Fed Up With The Blues
  3. My Dog And Me
  4. Circle Back
  5. Window On The World
  6. Fly Back Home
  7. How Bad’s The Coffee
  8. Missing Pieces
  9. Uncommon Connection
  10. The Nagging Dark
  11. The Most Original Sin
  12. The Last Time

Much to his credit, John Hiatt has never strayed very far from the bluesy garage rock roots of his Indiana childhood. That fact is raucously underscored here, a gritty collection that finds the veteran singer/songwriter co-crediting his longtime band, the Goners (guitarist Sonny Landreth, bassist Dave Ranson and Kenneth Blevins on drums) for the first time--and for good reason. While Hiatt's songwriting efforts are typically strong throughout, with gems like "Almost Fed Up With the Blues," "My Dog and Me," "My Baby Blue," and "The Most Unoriginal Sin" (originally recorded by Willie Nelson in ‘93) showcasing his tough wit and tender heart, this is decidedly a band effort from the rollicking first notes of "Uncommon Connection." Recorded live in the studio, Hiatt and the Goners evoke everything from chugging Sun Records' shuffles to swampy Delta blues, early Ry Cooder and the Band, all of it informed by the almost telepathic sense of interplay these musicians have developed over decades of touring. This is easily the most overtly rocking album of Hiatt's career, but one that hasn't sacrificed an ounce of soul for its joyous energy. --Jerry McCulley