Crisp, slightly introvert acoustic album
Docendo Discimus | Vita scholae | 07/30/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"No drummer at all, but a lot of mandolin on John Hiatt's 16th album.
And "Crossing Muddy Waters" is not a blues record either, despite the title. It is a predominately acoustic album, just Hiatt and multi-instrumentalists Davey Farragher and David Immerglück on various stringed instruments, tambourine, harmonium and a folding chair.
And the songs are quite low-key as well; "Crossing Muddy Waters" is dominated by slow and mid-tempo folk shuffles, with just a couple of up-tempo numbers.
Many of the songs deal with lost love, but it's not a depressing record. A sober one, yes, but with lighter moments as well, including the swinging "Lincoln Town", and the gospel-imbued "Lift Up Every Stone". And there is a lot to be said for this simple approach..."Crossing Muddy Waters" was recorded in four days, and the result is an album which feels relaxed without being unfocused or sloppy, and John Hiatt sings as well or better than he ever has.
"Crossing Muddy Waters" is not A-list-songs all the way from beginning to end; there are few somewhat forgettable numbers which refuse to make much impression, on me, anyway. The first half of the album is significantly stronger than the second, which makes for a bit of an odd listen, but there is still enough here to make it worth your while is you're into John Hiatt. And enough for some 3 1/2 stars."