Hiatt's commercial success as a solo artist has never quite equaled his reputation as a songwriter. Then again, perhaps that's not so bad, when everyone from Clapton and Dylan to Iggy Pop and Three Dog Night have covered his songs. In a more perfect world, Hiatt would be known for more than just penning hits for other artists. But still, it's a nice thing when one's songs can get out there and provide a living on their own.
On the heels of 2010's "The Open Road," the album "Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns" is Hiatt's 20th solo record. With a career spanning nearly 40 years, the sound of this record will be instantly familiar to any longtime Hiatt fan. That's not to say these songs are just more of the same. Though Hiatt wanders the territory that he and his listeners have known well, he also leads the listener down a few new roads.
The record opens with "Damn This Town," a mournful elegy to a fallen town and everything one would leave behind. And while the rest of the songs that follow do not wallow in that mire of despair quite as much as this one, the song helps set the tone of the record -- it's a snapshot of life, of the good and the bad in hard times.
On "Til I Get My Lovin' Back," Hiatt longs for a lost love, but there's more than heartbreak to be found here, as he turns right around with "I Love That Girl," an upbeat love song that is one of the best tracks on the album. And songs like "Detroit Made" find Hiatt at his rocking, raucous best. This song is a prime example of the blue-collar barroom rocker that Hiatt does so well. It is also the only new song Hiatt performed, solo acoustic, when appearing at the Fox with Lyle Lovett earlier this year. While things get a bit heavy-handed on the closing track, "When New York Had Her Heart Broke," a song about September 11, the record ultimately balances bluesy rockers, upbeat ballads and pensive reflections on life and a hard-travelled road.
Recorded in Nashville and produced by Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, the Black Crowes), the record features Kenneth Blevins on drums, Doug Lancio on guitar and mandolin and Patrick O'Hearn on bass. "Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns" will be released August 2, 2011 and the first single, "Damn This Town," is currently available to stream online.