Local Wire

John Hiatt @ Crescent Ballroom

Don't worry if the name "John Hiatt" doesn't immediately ring a bell for you. You've no doubt heard the man's tunes, especially the ubiquitous "Have a Little Faith in Me," which has been belted by everyone from Mandy Moore to Jon Bon Jovi. Hiatt's something of a songwriter's songwriter, penning tunes that have been performed by Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Urban, Chaka Khan, Three Dog Night, and more. The lineup of artists who have (literally) sung his praises is testament to his catholic delivery: Hiatt writes songs that transcend genre boundaries and party lines. His late-'70s and early-'80s discography shows off the same New Wave flirtations that earned Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello their hits, but like those two, he's a roots man at heart. His latest, 2011's Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns, is every bit as blue-collar American as you'd imagine, with the rusty screed "Damn This Town" opening the record, romantic odes like "Don't Wanna Leave You Now" sweetening the deal, and the defiant and proud "Detroit Made," which pulls off the classic trick of singing about a girl and a car at the same time. Hiatt's songs are boldly populist, and his grasp on soul, R&B, folk, and country grooves has earned him a rep as one of the best songwriters in the biz, while his solid live performances sell him as a fine performer, too.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.