Once again recording with his road band, John Hiatt isn’t much for frills or fussiness. But he knows how to write and frame a durable song – little wonder he’s been covered by everyone from Bob Dylan to Iggy Pop. His tunes frequently fall into a midtempo pocket that draws on numerous American traditions: the wit and rhythms of blues and soul, mostly, but also the twang of country, a hint of Tex-Mex, a shot of rock ‘n’ roll, tied together by sharply observed images.
But every album contains a few moments of mastery, and “Dirty Jeans & Mudslide Hymns” is no exception. In “Damn This Town” he somehow pulls self-deprecating humor out of despair, and colors the post-Apocalyptic nightmare of “Hold on For Your Love” with steadily rising desperation, punctuated by Doug Lancio’s guitar solo. The deceptively dream-like “Adios to California” strings together telling couplets about a break-up that should be the envy of every novelist. And with “Don’t Wanna Leave You Now,” he persuasively transforms himself into a love-struck soul balladeer. – Chicago Tribune