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Forty years is a long time to maintain a high artistic standard. Hell, it's a long time to be alive, to say nothing of writing powerfully elegant songs documenting that life and the people and places that pass through it. But that's exactly how long John Hiatt has been quietly asserting his position as one of the finest songwriters in American music, or that subset of American music often referred to as roots rock or alt-folk.

Whatever you call it, Hiatt's music is marked by insightful, often wry, sometimes sardonic, and just as often deeply romantic observations about his own triumphs and trials observations that somehow manage to reflect our own through their universal resonance.

Hiatt's recently released 23rd album, "Mystic Pinball," is, like all of his work, stuffed full of songs that should be huge radio hits. That there's not much left of actual radio these days does nothing to diminish this fact.

Though he often tours as a one-man, mostly acoustic performer, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Hiatt will bring his full band to the stage of the Bear's Den, Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls. Tickets start at $65 (box office, Ticketmaster).

Jeff Miers