After the success of Bring the Family, John Hiatt originally intended to reunite that album's all-star backing band (Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe, and Jim Keltner) for a follow-up. Hiatt's "dream band" proved to be unavailable, and he ended up cutting Slow Turning with his road band, the Goners, but the finished product proves he remembered well the lessons learned from Bring the Family. Slow Turning is a lighter and wittier affair than Bring the Family; the outlaw rocker "Tennessee Plates" and its more subdued companion piece, "Trudy and Dave," are more rambunctious than anything on the previous album, and the tempos are sharper this time out, with a bit less blues and a touch more twang in the melodies. But Slow Turning is also an album of hard-won lessons about life and love, placing a subtle but pronounced emphasis on the nuts and bolts of family life with the mingled joys and annoyances of parenthood dominating both "Georgia Rae" and the title cut, and the newfound maturity that made Bring the Family so special is still very much in evidence. And while the Goners aren't quite up to the standards of the quartet that recorded Bring the Family (and who, pray tell, is?), they're still a stronger and more empathetic band than Hiatt usually had in the studio, with Sonny Landreth's guitar work a standout. Following the best album of your career is no easy task for most performers, but with Slow Turning John Hiatt made it clear that the excellence of Bring the Family was no fluke.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming