The casual listener might be inclined to dismiss My Business as a throw away, but the tune gives Hiatt and The Combo a chance to rock out as they head into Howlin’ Wolf territory (there’s a howl at the end to round off the Wolf style riffage), and the change of pace as they rock out leads rather neatly into I Just Don't Know What to Say  a slower number in the we’re losing it and I’m bewildered mode that features a rather tasty solo from Mr Lancio (whose playing is consistently excellent throughout) and some rather tasty imagery as the protagonist admits he’s lost for words as he surveys what’s left of a relationship he’s not ready to give up on.

The main character, whoever he is, in I Know How to Lose You has a slightly different problem. He’s been bouncing from woman to woman and playing the field, but it’s only a means to distract him from the memory of the one he actually loves. After those heavier themes, you need something to lighten the mood, and it comes in the form of a crunchy groove on You're All the Reason I Need.We’re back in lost love territory for One of Them Damn Days where an embittered alcoholic is back on a bender after sights his ex with someone else across town. He’s just not sure which day it was...

The lighter side of things gets another guernsey in No Wicked Grin, sweet without being cloying and Give It Up continues in upbeat mode, even if the narrator’s begging a mate to get himself off the sauce or whatever additive he’s using to make his life bearable. The pendulum swings back slightly for Blues Can't Even Find Me, with a protagonist who can’t see the big picture anymore if there’s even one to view.  

By this point in a lengthy career long term fans know Hiatt’s not likely to be springing any surprises on you, but that’s not a problem. You’re virtually assured of a well-honed collection of songs with intelligent lyrics, each one more than likely telling a story or portraying a character, on a new Hiatt album, along with an instrumental accompaniment delivered with precision, down and dirty when it needs to be, crisp and clear when that’s the appropriate approach.

Another worthy effort from a master craftsman who has always been comfortably ahead of the pack, and not that far behind the likes of Costello, Thompson and Newman in my personal iconography.

© Ian Hughes 2012