Playlist

--Kelly Lemieux

John Hiatt
Little Head
(Capitol)

Fifteen years ago, artists like Hiatt and Bonnie Raitt gave adult-alternative radio stations progressive asphalt with which to build new roads. But since then, bands such as 16 Horsepower have been doing the trailblazing, while Hiatt remains stuck on his own crumbling Route 66. "I've got that feeling again," Hiatt sings at one point on Little Head, and no doubt he does: His new, catchy numbers sound no different from his old, catchy numbers. "Pirate Radio" rocks along in fine fashion, but be warned: After only one listen, it'll be jingling around inside your head all day, whether you want it to or not. The recording's ballads, meanwhile, find Hiatt at an all-time low; the falsetto he uses to croon "doot, doot, dootie-doot" on the worst of them epitomizes phony soulfulness. As for the title track, it recalls the Subdudes' soulful "Straight Shot," but not in a good way. Hiatt shoots it straight, all right--straight to a mechanized, tried-and-true hell.

--Jack Jackson

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