Picks and Pans Review: Crossing Muddy Waters

updated 01/15/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/15/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

John Hiatt (Vanguard)

With the rasping, paper-thin but impassioned voice of an aged bluesman, Hiatt sounds considerably older than his 48 years. But when he sings one of his lyrical my-baby-done-left-me songs, there is no mistaking the timeless sound of heartbreak. "Left me in my tears to drown," he sings in the title dirge. "She left a baby daughter/ Now the river's wide and deep and brown/ She's crossing muddy waters." Still haunted, it seems, by the 1985 suicide of his first wife, who left him to raise their year-old daughter alone, Hiatt infuses all 11 of these gems about busted romances and tragicomic heroes and losers with real-life humor and heartache.

Bottom Line: Crystal-clear talent

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