CROSSING MUDDY WATERS
New West (NW6216)
Lincoln Town, Crossing Muddy Waters, What Do We Do Now? Only The Song Survives, Lift Up Every Stone, Take It Down, Gone, Take It Back, God's Golden Eyes, Before I Go.
John Hiatt's been making seriously superb music for many years. Who could forget his chilling vocals on Skin Game from Ry Cooder's ‘The Border' soundtrack or the entire ‘Bring The Family' album which had one of the classiest bands ever when he invited Ry Cooder, Jim Keltner and Nick Lowe on board?
This reissue of ‘Crossing Muddy Waters' is another sheer classic. Recorded twelve years ago with a stripped down group rattling off the tunes in a mostly acoustic fashion, it's got a rural feel on some of the best songs Hiatt has ever written. Davey Faragher plays bass and all kinds of percussion including a metal folding chair, David Immergluck plays guitar and shimmering mandolin while Hiatt supplies the divine acoustic guitar and National reso-phonic moments.
Every song is brilliantly crafted, from the upbeat mandolin fuelled Lincoln Town and the anthemic Lift Up Every Stone to Take It Down with its sad chord changes and Gone - a song full of wry humour; "Gone like my last paycheck, gone like the car I wrecked, gone like a fifth of gin, gone like the shape I'm in", not forgetting the country blues Mr Stanley which catches fire when David Immergluck eases in with his mandolin.
Hiatt's true masterwork is What Do We Do Now?, a song of quiet desperation about a broken relationship that hits every nerve in your body. It moves at a stately pace with reverberating lines from Hiatt's magnificent guitar while he delivers some of the best lyrics he's ever written; "When it's lying there with a busted heart, like a piece of glass, where do you start? Do we pick it up or say goodbye, is there one tear left for us to cry? Do we call the kids or call the cops, can you hold me ‘till this howling stops?"
This album has been treasured by me and mine for twelve years now and I'm heartened every time I hear any of the songs on it. If you missed it first time around, don't hesitate to buy it now.
Review Date: March 2012