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ALBUM REVIEWS

John Hiatt

"Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns''

By Bill Beuttler
Globe Correspondent / August 2, 2011

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Singer-songwriter John Hiatt’s 20th album shows him still cranking out quality roots music for grown-ups. His stylistic range, as usual, is impressive. A trio of love songs - “Til I Get My Lovin’ Back,’’ “I Love That Girl,’’ “Don’t Wanna Leave You Now’’ - appear to contain the same sort of autobiographical origins that fueled his 1987 breakthrough album, “Bring the Family.’’ Other songs, including “Damn This Town,’’ “Train to Birmingham,’’ “Down Around My Place,’’ and “Adios to California,’’ are built from oblique shards of invented narrative. (The latter, a twangy coming to terms with a lover’s abrupt departure, supplies the album’s title and writerly detail about “eatin’ doughnuts and readin’ Twain.’’) The rockin’ “Detroit Made’’ is a revved-up celebration of a classic Buick, the Electra 225. The album ends with “When New York Had Her Heart Broke,’’ a moody remembrance of 9/11 in time for its 10th anniversary. Hiatt sings of having been there that day and not knowing what to say, but he makes a somber, dignified attempt at it. (Out today)

ESSENTIAL “Detroit Made’’