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John Hiatt: Funny Singer, Sad Songs

POP CAPSULES

August 04, 1986|CHRIS WILLMAN

John Hiatt writes the funniest sad songs--and the saddest funny songs--of just about anybody alive, and his solo shows at the very intimate McCabe's every six months or so are treasured opportunities to get close to Hiatt getting close to tragicomic truths.

At the late show Friday, this former Angeleno betrayed no new-found country stylings picked up from his recent migration back to Nashville, but every one of his gems has a clever lyrical hook that most of Nashville's finest would give their right pinkie to have written.

No, it sounds more like he's been hanging out in Motown, judging from the soul infecting such classics as "She Loves the Jerk" and "You May Already Be a Winner" and a dozen unrecorded songs. He can rock out quite nicely with a band, but he's even finer with no frills--just guitar, piano, harmonica, painful facial contortions, pleasing vocal contortions, dripping emotion and arid-extra-dry wit.

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