Various Artists

It'll Come to You: The Songs of John Hiatt

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In the grand tradition of Leonard Cohen and Kris Kristofferson, John Hiatt is a singer/songwriter whose songwriting is more widely appreciated than his singing; while his craggy growl fits his material like a glove, it isn't the sort of instrument likely to get anybody on the radio, and as a result Hiatt has enjoyed a great deal more success as a writer than a performer. It says a lot about the regard with which Hiatt is held as a tunesmith that It'll Come to You: The Songs of John Hiatt is the third Hiatt tribute album to be released thus far, following Love Gets Strange: The Songs of John Hiatt and Rollin' into Memphis: Songs of John Hiatt (note to whoever compiles the fourth Hiatt tribute -- please come up with a fresh subtitle). It'll Come to You combines three new recordings with ten previously released tracks, several of which also appeared on Love Gets Strange, and while one wouldn't argue with the rightness of Nick Lowe's "She Don't Love Nobody" and Emmylou Harris' "Ice Blue Heart," their presence doesn't speak well for the imagination of the folks who put this set together. The new recordings are strong and solid, especially Buddy and Julie Miller's edgy take on "Paper Thin" and a soulful interpretation of the title tune from Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise. Any album with songs as strong as "She Loves the Jerk," "Across the Borderline," "Feels Like Rain," and "The Way We Make a Broken Heart" is an album worth owning, and every performer on this set gives the tunes the passion and care that they deserve. If Love Gets Strange is a stronger album overall, It'll Come to You still makes a great case for the talent of John Hiatt, songwriter. And who knows, maybe this will encourage a few more people to pick up Bring the Family or Stolen Moments and hear the man sing his own stuff.

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