John Hiatt could be one of the most under appreciated songwriters in America.

Paul Wong
Author Grace Paley.<br><br>Courtesy of New York Writer”s Institute

Honestly, this guy has been around forever (since the “70s folks). He has also been covered by some of the most well-known artists in music, ranging from Bob Dylan and Iggy Pop to Paula Abdul. Continuing from Jewel to Eric Clapton and B.B. King. Still, no one knows who the hell he is.

With his new album, The Tiki Bar is Open, Hiatt reunites with his old “80s band, the Goners.

It is possible that Hiatt is known more as a songwriter than a performer because although his songs are strong, there is nothing amazingly unique in his arrangement or voice. In fact, the one thing that stands out most about Hiatt, is his well defined guitar tones.

All the songs on The Tiki Bar is Open have substantial potential, but their presentations are mediocre and clich. One exception to this rule is “Hangin” Round Here,” which is catchy and Randy Newman-esque. Another is the upbeat and pop-driven “All the Lilacs in Ohio.”

There is nothing truly essential about The Tiki Bar is Open, and nothing that makes it a must-have album. But if history repeats itself, these are songs you might be hearing within the next five years on the Top 40 or at least light-rock radio.

Hiatt may just be the type of artist who makes his living writing great songs for others to play.

Grade: B-

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *