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October 17, 2000

down the promo PIPELINE

John Hiatt
Vanguard Records

In his newest release, John Hiatt returns to the recording style of Bring the Family, the album that thrust him back into the limelight and defined him as one of rocks greatest songwriters. Recorded in just 4 Days, Crossing Muddy Waters is a triumph. Live and mostly acoustic, this album rings with all the energy of a back porch jam session. Davey Faragher and David Immergluck add not only perfectly played accompaniment, but they stomp, hoot and even play a folding metal chair. This is rock stripped to its roots and played from the soul.

The songs are pure Hiatt. No other lyricist could write a love song about rolling your Camaro and then having to wake your "baby" Ďcause sheís gotten a concussion. But Hiatt not only can but he does on "Only the Song Survives" in a style that is both sweet and simple. From the rocking "Lincoln Town" to the incredibly tender "Before I Go," Hiatt writes and sings in a style all his own. Every song is perfectly in tune with the spirit of common man and it is this clarity that makes Hiatt a legend. The epitome of this is the title song, "Crossing Muddy Waters," a song so authentic and well crafted itís hard to believe that it isnít an old blues or folk standard. Although Crossing Muddy Waters is more traditional than Slow Turning and Perfectly Good Guitar, He shows the talent that inspired blues artists from Bonnie Raitt to B. B. King to record his music.

Crossing Muddy Waters is essential John Hiatt. This recording will please everyone, from the blues purist to the guitar rocker. Originally recorded independently as a mp3 downloadable CD, Hiatt made a deal to release it on the folk and blues label, Vanguard Records. He seems to have found a home for his bluesy roots rock with his new label. Letís hope they continue to support his unique style of original music.

-- Thomi Sharpe


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