John Hiatt The Tiki Bar Is Open

As with many singer/songwriters, I've always felt John Hiatt was only as good as the musicians around him. That was surely the case with his classic album, Bring The Family, where he was backed by Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe and Jim Keltner. He made another wise move in drafting slide guitar wizard Sonny Landreth to sub for Cooder, but the years following Family's breakthrough have seen Hiatt drifting in search of a new winning formula. Thankfully, from the first blast of "Everybody Went Low" it's clear he has once again got his musical house in order. Landreth is back and the rhythm section of Dave Ranson and Kenneth Blevins push Hiatt as he hasn't been pushed in a long time. While I'm still not convinced he's as great a songwriter as many people seem to think he is, "Rock Of Your Love" is above-average country rock and "Come Home To You" is a suitable tearjerker. But it is the energy of the band that makes up for any shortcomings. If you've forgotten about John Hiatt, The Tiki Bar Is Open might be a good place to catch up with an old friend. (Vanguard)