John Hiatt: Same Old Man

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John Hiatt: Same Old Man

Old hand gets to the heart of the matter, zeroing in on love in the long run

On his 19th studio album, John Hiatt has rediscovered his muse—more wrinkled and greyer than before, but central to a musically unvarnished song cycle tracing the ups and downs of a long-term relationship.

The model appears to be his greatest ballad, 1987’s “Have a Little Faith in Me,” its tug of war between devotion and self-doubt offering further hard-earned insight with the passage of time. Two of these songs rank with Hiatt’s best work. “Our Time” presents a series of aural snapshots. It’s a measure of the artist’s focus that he can sing about Chinese takeout and pu-pu platters without going for a cheap laugh. Even more gripping is the title song, an unflinching self-examination set in terms of his worthiness in the eyes of his beloved. The final verse is the clincher: “You start out tryin’ to change everything / You wind up dancin’ with who you bring / I loved you then and my love still stands / Honey I’m still the same old man.”