Picks and Pans Review: Walk on

updated 11/20/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/20/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

John Hiatt

Hiatt is sort of the Cal Ripken Jr. of the rock world. Like the Baltimore Oriole, he may not be the flashiest player, but he is a workhorse who never fails to deliver quality work, and on his 12th studio album, for his fourth label, Hiatt's songwriting just seems to be getting stronger.

It's unfortunate that in his long career he has never really had anything resembling commercial success. Perhaps it's because he has refused to stick with one musical persona, playing everything from the angry rocker to the sensitive folkie to the country troubadour. This latest release ends up being mixes of all three. There are rock tunes like "Good as She Could Be," the story of a poor little rich girl. There are quieter, reflective numbers like the acoustic "Dust down a Country Road." And there is the twangy "Ethylene," an ode to a country gal who enjoys cleaning her outdoorsy man's fish and dressing his deer.

In a way, Walk On is the perfect disc for this point in Hiatt's career. It's like a "best of" collection for a guy who never sold enough to have a "best of" collection. Now, if he could only be like Ripken and get some hits, he too would be ready for the Hall of Fame. (Capitol)

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