John Hiatt

Little Head

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By attempting to loosen up on Little Head, John Hiatt only accentuates his songwriting slump. Hiatt tentatively backs away from pure Americana, trying to make the rhythms looser and the lyrics funnier. It's supposed to be a lighthearted record, but the humor is so labored and the music so forced that it largely falls flat. But the real problem is Hiatt's shockingly listless songwriting. Although he's recycled past ideas on Perfectly Good Guitar and Walk On, his craftsmanship made those two efforts at least marginally entertaining. On Little Head, his skill has abandoned him -- there's no spark to the music, no bite to the lyrics, no hooks in the melodies. "Pirate Radio" comes close to rocking, and "Graduated" is an affecting ballad, yet they pale next to the finest moments not only on Bring the Family and Slow Turning, but also Walk On. Which means it's arguably his weakest album to date.

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