John Hiatt (from the album The Eclipse Sessions available on New West Records)
For John Hiatt, his twenty-third studio recording, The Eclipse Sessions, is part of a trio of releases that partner his latest release with Bring the Family (1987) and Crossing Muddy Waters (2000). The trio of recordings are similar in the manner which they came into life, John Hiatt feeling that ‘the three albums are very connected in my mind. They all have a vibe to them that was unexpected. I didn’t know where I was going when I started out on any of them. And each one wound up being a pleasant surprise’. Lazy Blues strums form a groove as John Hiatt mentally adds up the love chips in “The Odds of Loving You”, offers a shoulder for solace and support in “Cry to Me”, picks up the pace with a caffeinated stride for “Outrunning My Soul”, and stomps out a beat to take him across “Over the Hill” as the storyline hands out a literal and figurative resume.
Over the course of his career, John Hiatt has stayed to a cycle of one to two years between releases, the gap going wide as he looked out after finishing his last record (Terms of My Surrender) in 2014, his vision cloudy. While uncomfortable, John Hiatt went inward to find a path forward, admitting that ‘I’ve been lost before. Although usually I have some sort of notion or clue where to go. But this time? I had no sense whatsoever. I wanted to spend more time with my family. I was aging, with all that entails or doesn’t entail. Stuff was just happening’. The lyrics to “Robber’s Highway” which closes out The Eclipse Sessions were testament to the place John Hiatt found his songwriting as he sang ‘I had words, chords and strings / now I don’t have any of these things’. The track was the only one prepared for the album, its tale reflecting a closing door as the story became a catalyst for more tunes to fill out The Eclipse Sessions. The man on stage knows his limits as John Hiatt confesses to be a “Poor Imitation of God” and slams down a beat wrapped in reverberating guitar notes for “One Stiff Breeze”. The Eclipse Sessions take a late-night drive down Nashville’s Lower Broadway “All the Way to the River” while John Hiatt deals out memories cruising his own after-hours boulevard in “Aces Up Your Sleeve” and quiets the background playing to reveal “Nothing in My Heart”.
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