The Eclipse Sessions John Hiatt New West Records That John Hiatt sounds world-weary in The Eclipse Sessions is entirely apposite to an album that alludes to the vulnerability and vicissitude of relationships. The 23rd release from this widely admired veteran Nashville troubadour, whose songs have been covered by everybody from Bob Dylan and BB King to Joan Baez and Joe Cocker, may not constitute easy listening, but it certainly portrays a raw and compelling picture of life on the slide. The theme is set with characteristic pith in Cry to Me, a rolling altcountry opener directed at heartbroken lovers, as Hiatt drawls lines such as, “Tongue so sharp it bursts and bubbles”. It culminates 10 tracks later in Robber’s Highway, a graphic waltz-time reflection on waning powers and mortality.
Hiatt strikes a comparatively optimistic note in The Odds of Loving You but in another bluesy confession, Poor Imitation of God, counters: “I do better on my own / A lovesick dog that’s got no home.” No cards are left to deal in Aces Up Your Sleeve: “There’s no light on the bar-room floors where you swept them all off their feet.” Hiatt frets about impending dotage in the funky JJ Cale-sounding Over the Hill.
In the ballads Nothing in My Heart and Hide Your Tears he descends to bottom register to sing stripped-to-the-bone lyrics, while in the rockers All the Way to the River and One Stiff Breeze, Hiatt strains to hit the higher notes. Mind you, his guitar-playing and arranging are exemplary throughout.