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John Hiatt and The Goners
Beneath This Gruff Exterior
New West Records
www.johnhiatt.com


When you open an envelope and the first thing you see is the new CD from John Hiatt and The Goners, you know it is going to be a good day. Not only does this mean new music from John Hiatt, but it also means that he has re-assembled this famous group of amazing musicians to help him out. And like Neil Young with Crazy Horse, you cannot go wrong with The Goners.

And 5 seconds into "Uncommon Connection", the Goners' influence is immediate. The music on Beneath This Gruff Exterior is livelier and more engaging than Hiatt's last record. The guitar playing of Sonny Landreth is a welcome re-addition to the amazingly well written songs of John Hiatt, and somehow makes them more complete to my ears. "How Bad's The Coffee" would more than likely stand on its own, but with that sweet Memphis slide guitar work, the song jumps to an almost heavenly level. "My Baby Blue" is filled with crisp acoustic guitars, more of that Landreth slide, and groovy rhythms parts furnished by Dave Ranson on bass and Kenneth Blevins on drums. Surely one of Hiatt's greatest songs ever is "Almost Fed Up With The Blues", with its dirty guitars and swinging drum lines accompanying trademark tongue-in-cheek Hiatt lyrics. "Have some coffee, 'fore I call it quits/ Might even put jam on my biscuit/ 'Cause I'm almost fed up with the blues/ There's a woman, a car, a bank note due/ But I'm gonna leave that up to you/ 'Cause I'm almost fed up with the blues…" The jumpy feel of "Circle Back" is infectious, and continues the great liveliness that makes this record so great. "Fly Back Home" is another standout song on this record, one that is certainly not to be missed, with its tremendous lyrical content and sludgy drum groove. Wrapping up the record is the one slowed down track, "The Most Unoriginal Sin"- full of its own distinctive life, this song really shines in its imagery and delivery of perceived somber material.

There is obviously a breath of life that The Goners bring to this record. John Hiatt will always stand on his own as a great songwriter and performer, but when he is surrounded by some of his best friends - and great players - his songs transcend mere greatness. Beneath This Gruff Exterior is arguably the same caliber record as Bring The Family, and is a definite must-have for any fan of Hiatt's music.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:

1. Uncommon connection
2. How Bad's The Coffee
3. The Nagging Dark
4. My Baby Blue
5. My Dog And Me
6. Almost Fed Up With The Blues
7. Circle Back
8. Window On The World
9. Missing Pieces
10. Fly Back Home
11. The Last Time
12. The Most Unoriginal Sin


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