Fair and Square
Oh Boy Records
I don’t have to tell you that this is a good album. It recently won Prine his second Grammy. While a Grammy is not something that means it’ll suit any Prine lover’s taste, it is valid recognition of an artist who has been called a “national treasure” by no less than our nation’s Poet Laureate.
Until this album, it had been nine years since Prine released an album of original material. Some whom I have talked to in the interim have wondered aloud what his bout with cancer would do to his writing. The short answer: absolutely nothing. This is classic Prine with all the elements you’ve come to expect. Prine has been an old soul as long as I’ve known him, so nothing has changed and likely it never will. It’s the classic recipe he’s always used. It’s warm, clever, timeless, funny and, on occasion, gently biting (“Some Human’s Ain’t Human”).
The writing here is consistent enough that any song on this album would sandwich quite nicely between cuts on most any of his older work, and it stands as his best work since The Missing Years — and one of his best ever. There are a couple of songs that may aggravate some fans — like “Safety Joe” — but I’ve followed Prine long enough to know that even some of his somewhat silly songs have a way of worming their way into your heart over time.
As Prine himself said about this one…
“It was just time. I had a bunch of songs. I’d started recording ’em, and it turns out, I liked ’em pretty well. So, now, I get to get ’em all just the way I like ’em — and then I get to let ’em go out to meet the world.”
Welcome to the world, little songs. Pleased to meet you.
John Prine: www.ohboy.com/johnprine.html