For all of his ability to rock out, John Hiatt's records usually have more of a soul and/or country feel to them, which makes 1993's Perfectly Good Guitar something of an anomaly: This is the most consistently rock & roll-oriented album of Hiatt's career. Produced by Matt Wallace (Replacements, Faith No More), who gives a Neil Young-style guitar ...
For all of his ability to rock out, John Hiatt's records usually have more of a soul and/or country feel to them, which makes 1993's Perfectly Good Guitar something of an anomaly: This is the most consistently rock & roll-oriented album of Hiatt's career. Produced by Matt Wallace (Replacements, Faith No More), who gives a Neil Young-style guitar crunch to most of the songs, Perfectly Good Guitar was a record almost tailor-made for the then-nascent AAA (adult album alternative) demographic. Unfortunately, Hiatt seems to borrow not only Young's guitar sound, but also his sloppy, inconsistent songwriting for this album. The title track is one of Hiatt's all-time best, using smashed guitars as a perfectly realized metaphor for abusive relationships and setting the impressive lyrics to the catchiest chorus of his entire career. But while the tender "Buffalo River Home" and "Blue Telescope" are equally fine, much of the rest of the record sounds hurried and unfocused. "The Wreck of the Barbie Ferrari" sadly fails to live up to its title, and the closing "Loving a Hurricane" takes the Neil Young comparisons right to the edge of outright plagiarism. John Hiatt has released far worse albums than Perfectly Good Guitar, but given how terrific about a third of the songs are, this album's one of his more frustrating efforts. ~ Stewart Mason, Rovi
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