Picks and Pans Review: Perfectly Good Guitar

updated 09/20/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/20/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

John Hiatt

At 41, John Hiatt may be getting older, but he's out to prove you're only as old as you play. On his 11th disc the music sounds livelier than that coming from performers half his age.

This lime, Hiatt has chucked the folkier sound that has made him a critic's darling over the past few years to recapture the rowdier rock style he used to favor. The aptly named opening track, "Something Wild," sets the tone. It's down-and-dirty rock, just behind grunge. Even when Hiatt slows things down with blues dirges like "Old Habits," there's a punkish defiance to his guitar riffs and his vocals.

Sure, Hiatt sometimes acts his age in his lyrics. With tunes like the title-track lament about disrespectful young rockers whom he's seen "smashing perfectly good guitars" or the observation that "there's only two things in life/ But I forget what they are" in "Buffalo River Home," he does sound a bit old and cranky, still the lively rock on the album works like musical Geritol, keeping him and anyone who hears it young and vital. (A&M)"

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