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John Hiatt

The Open Road (New West)

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Redemption and domestic bliss have been staples of recent Hiatt releases. It looks like he took the hint to get rocking again. With his touring band loose and tight in all the right places, The Open Road has the feel of a live show minus the claps and feedback. Hiatt can take a fundamental concept and make it unforgettable. "Like a Freight Train" has extra juice as a metaphor for lost youth, given the reduced rail traffic nowadays. Perception, deception and big backbeat propel "What Kind of Man," destined to be a hit for somebody. Hiatt's penchant for self-examination can still get you out of your chair.

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