Though it doesn't always occur, when singer/songwriter John Hiatt collaborates with his erstwhile backing band the Goners, magic tends to happen.

Though it doesn't always occur, when singer/songwriter John Hiatt collaborates with his erstwhile backing band the Goners, magic tends to happen. This debut on New West is a case in point, with Hiatt's top-shelf songwriting and expressive vocals and the Goners' tough instrumentation (propelled by guitarist Sonny Landreth) making for a delicious gumbo. "Fly Back Home" and "Uncommon Connection" are driving Louisiana shuffles, and Landreth's sinewy slide guitar propels the insinuating "How Bad's the Coffee." Hiatt's songwriting chops are fully intact, whether it's the bright light of "The Nagging Dark," the confessional "Window on the World," or the gentle canine treatise "My Dog and Me." He remains a hopeless romantic on the pop-flavored "My Baby Blue." The highlight here, though, is a too-long-awaited studio version of Hiatt's own "The Most Unoriginal Sin," an absolutely brilliant song rendered with the perspective time brings to its author.—RW



IAN McCULLOCH

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