In the last three decades, John Hiatt's made some terrific and tough folk-rock records and written some great songs—anthems, even. But over the years, his Americana has become increasingly stiff, the fluidity of his early work replaced by formulaic arrangements echoed in his unyielding bark. Last year's Mystic Pinball simply reapplied the starch to his style, with songs that felt written and recorded with equations and not enthusiasms in mind. If you've heard or seen Hiatt in the last decade, you know the sound to expect.
&mdash Grayson Currin