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John Prine: Fair and Square
Buy! - (Oh Boy)
John Prine's been laying kinda low for the past decade or so, releasing only a live album, an album of duets, and a collection of re-recordings of some of his earlier classics. The lack of new material was understandable, since during this time he was also battling cancer. He's now back in good health with his first album of new original material in 10 years, and it's a stunner.

Prine's always had a gift for using seemingly plain language to illuminate deep truths about relationships and the human condition, and he hits the bulls-eye time and again here. I'm not going to bother with highlighting particular songs, since they all range from very good to truly great. There ain't a stinker in the bunch.

I will note though that the sound of the album is also excellent - it's a warm, intimate record grounded in homegrown country and folk with lots of pedal steel, mandolin, accordion and other rootsy instrumentation. John has never been the strongest vocalist, but his gruff Midwestern twang feels right at home here. Fair & Square is not only a great comeback album, but it's also one of the finest albums of his illustrious career. 4/15/2005 - Don Slack