Release Date: Sep 25, 2012
Record label: New West
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Roots Rock, Heartland Rock
To his credit, John Hiatt has never been a guy with much interest in doing the same thing twice in a row, and it's not uncommon for a new Hiatt album to seem like a reaction to the last record he made -- a quiet, acoustic-based album will often be followed by a tougher, more rollicking set, and if he was thoughtful and introspective last time, it's a fair bet he'll sound tougher and wilder the next time he goes into the studio. Since 2011's Dirty Jeans & Mudslide Hymns boasted the slickest production to grace a Hiatt album in quite some time, it's paradoxically appropriate that Mystic Pinball, appearing just 13 months later, sounds a lot looser, funkier, and more lively, as if Hiatt and his band rolled in and cut these songs without much fuss. As it happens, Dirty Jeans and Mystic Pinball were both produced by the same guy, Kevin Shirley, but the finished product certainly sounds and feels different, and the rough and ready tone of these sessions fits the material well, especially the crunchy, blues-shot "My Business," the witty but ominous "Wood Chipper," the marvelously cranky "One of Them Damn Days," and the Stones-style groove of "You're All the Reason I Need.
It’s the words and images — rather than the music — that you remember after listening to John Hiatt’s new record, Mystic Pinball. You remember the motorcyclist with no helmet who slams into a concrete drain pipe in the song “It All Comes Back Someday”. You remember the note found in a dead lover’s breast pocket in “Wood Chipper”. You remember the alcoholic who turns to the bottle because he thought he saw his long-estranged wife across town in “One of Them Damn Days”.