Master of Disaster, John Hiatt's brilliant new CD, simultaneously celebrates and updates rock 'n' roll in a manner that won't be particularly surprising to any child of the '50s. Hiatt journeyed...Expand
Master of Disaster, John Hiatt's brilliant new CD, simultaneously celebrates and updates rock 'n' roll in a manner that won't be particularly surprising to any child of the '50s. Hiatt journeyed to Memphis for this recording, joining forces with the venerable producer and impresario Jim Dickinson and his sons Cody and Luther, who comprise two thirds of the radical roots-blues/rockers the North Mississippi Allstars. Veteran Muscle Shoals session man extraordinaire David Hood handles the bass. "I see this almost like a Fathers and Sons type of project, similar to what those guys did in Chicago with the Chess legends and the young rockers," Hiatt said while discussing the album. "Jim's sons Luther and Cody brought in that youthful assertiveness, that rocking feeling, and Jim and I were the old guys, just grabbing hold to the grooves they were laying down and doing something else with them."
Then Hiatt began gaining equal notoriety as a performer, particularly a stint where he served as America's answer to the angry Brits of the late '70s, plus some time working with Ry Cooder. The evidence of his evolution into a formidable artist also became more apparent in his live shows. Soon such seminal releases as Bring The Family in 1987, Slow Turning in 1988, Stolen Moments in 1990, and Walk On in 1995 were the signal that he had become a distinctive and dynamic star. Hiatt's greatness couldn't be denied, and he subsequently made three more astonishing releases as the 21st century began: Crossing Muddy Waters in 2000 reaffirmed his songwriting chops (as if that was necessary), The Tiki Bar Is Open showcased the rock 'n' roll roots and Beneath This Gruff Exterior revealed an artist still capable of surprising, shocking and delighting his audience.
But what makes everything work is that Hiatt naturally fits into every setting, smartly embellishing grooves one time and soaring over floating progressions the next. He's just as compelling and convincing recognizing an old-timer's heartbreak in "Old School" as he was enticing and suggestive on "When My Love Crosses Over," with both songs ultimately illuminating the sexual games and maneuvers too often at the heart of most relationships. His poignant, reflective yet confident lead vocal punctuates "Old School," making it a moving and memorable look at disappointment and disillusionment. "Back On The Corner" also addresses loss and suffering, but this time works in the impact of addiction as well. It's a fitting conclusion to a magnificent work, one that depicts an American music giant still refining his compositions and forging ahead.