He started his recording career back in 1974 and over the course of the last four and half decades has been one of the great songwriters of his generation. On the new album, The Eclipse Sessions, John Hiatt strips down his rootsy roadhouse sound and gives us a heartfelt view of his life and thoughts at 66. The songs on the new recording have a J.J. Cale and Eric Clapton feel from their “Tulsa period”. Primarily acoustic, the tunes are musically sparse which only serves to highlight his gravely and unique voice and the power of his songwriting.
On Robber’s Highway, John looks at life’s end with a beauty and honesty that struck me to the core. “Can’t feel the fingers on one hand…mouth full of cotton…feet of clay…I didn’t plan on waking up today….Come and get me Jesus I don’t know…Come and get me Jesus cuz I can’t go.”
The Odds of Loving You looks at a relationship with lyrics that are just witty and penetrating. “I was up on my high horse taking notes and namin’ names….ran out like a dog in shame….Seven nights of heaven…eleven days of who shot who…..seven come eleven….I love the odds of loving you.”
My favorite cut of the album is All the Way to the River. An upbeat tempo song about a woman on a downward spiral, the life images he paints in lyrics are Hiatt at his best. “Up late with hollowed out eyes…all the way to the river…..tryin every last trouble on for size….all the way to the river.”
I also enjoyed Cry to Me, Poor Imitation of God, Over the Hill, Nothing in My Heart, and Aces Up Your Sleeve.
If anything, John’s voice, music, and songwriting have reached a new majestic plane on his 23rd album. I hope you take the time to download and experience the music of this roadhouse icon.
John Hiatt – The Eclipse Sessions (2018 New West Records)