John Hiatt The Open Road

John Hiatt The Open Road
Over the course of 18 earlier albums, Hiatt has deservedly won a place in the elite of American roots-rock singer-songwriters. He has surely earned more in royalties from other artists covering his songs than his records, but his warm and expressive voice has real charm. The Open Road doesn't quite measure up to the sustained brilliance of earlier albums like Slow Turning and Bring The Family, however. A somewhat generic bluesy sound disappoints, as on the banal six-minute long "Like A Freight Train," and it'd have been nice if he'd veered off the median strip of The Open Road and taken a few more chances stylistically. Hiatt produced the disc in his garage turned studio and used his regular touring band, taking a no-frills approach. Still, there's enough merit here to keep Hiatt loyalists content. Few write better on-the-road songs, and tunes like the title track and "Haulin'" maintain his strong batting average, while "Wonder Of Love" is one of those soulful ballads he does so well. (New West)