John Hiatt: The Open Road Review
[New West Records]
A worn-out road
On first listen, John Hiatt’s 19th studio album sounds like the rallying cry of an American absconder, all fugitive lead-footing and Mardi Gras beads hanging from rearview mirrors. But in the end, the characters of the Indianapolis-born songwriter’s country-blues ballads are happiest when they have someone to settle down with, even if they have a hard time staying put. “I got down on my knees last night and I thanked someone / for the chance for two people to try and live together and not roam,” Hiatt sings just before his woman leaves him in “Wonder Of Love.” Hiatt puts these thoughts to paper in his signature cerebral style, but it isn’t enough to make these played-out themes feel fresh. It’s been half a century since Kerouac’s trendsetting tale, and the open road—with its glamours and temptations—has been traveled too many times to hold much allure, at least with Hiatt at the wheel.