- 11 May 18
It’s a good job this, when people ask you to listen to the new John Prine album for beer, so imagine my surprise when the opening track turned out to be a mess of banging industrial techno.
Well, no, of course not. If you’re a Prine fan, you already know what you’re getting. As Bob Dylan once put it, “he writes beautiful songs, pure Proustian existentialism”, and here’s ten more remembrances of times past, set against the usual country/folky backdrop, his first album of new material since 2005’s Fair & Square. The man has beaten two different forms of cancer, he’s earned the right to take his time.
Start anywhere, it’s all lovely stuff. ‘Lonesome Friends Of Science’ rejects the nay saying “bastards in their white lab coats” over a tune lifted, with the glee a writer who has nothing left to prove, from Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Pancho and Lefty’. ‘Egg And Daughter Nite’ posits that the great benefit of age is the ability to blame all your bad behaviour on your “old crazy bones”. ‘Boundless Love’ and ‘I Have Met My Love Today’ are simply beautiful odes to domestic bliss.
Prine seems to be at ease with the mortality he’s already brushed up against a few times. ‘When I Get To Heaven’ makes the afterlife sound great, as he reunites with family members, has a drink and a smoke, and even opens a boozer called The Tree Of Forgiveness into which he invites us critics for a pint of Smithwicks (hey, a free beer is a free beer). Even the staunchest atheist would get misty eyed. And they’ll have something in their throats as the strings swell behind the chorus of ‘God Only Knows’ (no, not that one) too.
Marvellous. Do yourself a favour.
John Prine plays the National Concert Hall on the 13th of August