Not many artists move into one of their most fruitful periods at the age of 48, and though John Hiatt has never been a dawdler when it comes to writing songs and making records, after leaving the major-label game with 2000's Crossing Muddy Waters, he became impressively prolific even by his own standards, cranking out eight studio albums of fresh material from 2000 to 2012. Here to Stay: Best of 2000-2012 finds New West Records following the example of nearly every other label Hiatt has worked with in putting together a collection of his highlights from their back catalog (Crossing Muddy Waters and The Tiki Bar Is Open were originally released by Vanguard, but have since been reissued by New West, who put out six subsequent Hiatt discs). If this set doesn't sound like the greatest work of Hiatt's career, Here to Stay confirms what people who have been following his work in the 21st century already knew -- John Hiatt is a consistently strong and compelling songwriter who knows how to bring his music to life in the studio, and he's been cutting a string of tough, thoughtful, satisfying records at a time when most veteran acts are running out of ideas and content to rest on their laurels. Hiatt is a working musician in the best sense of the word, a guy whose embrace of his craft and relationship with his muse is enviable as his recording career edges up on 40 years, and while Here to Stay doesn't sound like the work of a young man, these 17 songs make an advantage of Hiatt's age, experience, and vocal grit, delivering some wicked blues-shot rock that tells a lot of tales worth hearing from a life lived with a certain amount of reckless abandon. Here to Stay includes one new tune, featuring Joe Bonamassa on guitar, which should encourage Hiatt's regular customers to buy 16 tracks they probably already own, but if you lost track of John Hiatt in the '90s and you wonder what he's been up to lately, Here to Stay gives you the answer -- he's been writing songs, making albums, and quietly proving he's still one of the best things American roots rock has to offer, delivering the good like a pro and a prodigy.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming