New Music 4/13/18: John Prine

Hot off the presses: new music!  Better said, new music that is worth your time.

John Prine – The Tree of Forgiveness – 10 songs / 32 minutes

Weathered and aged as he may be, Mr. Prine can still write a song with the best of them – and his band is up to the task as well.

 

While John is certainly aware of his age and impending mortality, this is not an old guy facing death record a la Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen – in fact, this may not even be the last album of his legendary career.  The album cover is a stark picture of a man well aged and showing every one of his 71 years, and seems almost intentionally set to emphasize his lack of hair and well-worn features.  His voice not what it once was, but with a solid band and great songwriting that features songs that are largely fun and lighthearted, this album is a winner.

“Knockin on Your Screen Door” tells the story of a man whose family left him with nothing but an old 8-track of Another Side of George Jones and memories – he can close his eyes and remember the good old days.  On “Egg & Daughter Nite (Crazy Bone)”, he gives some advice for those reaching their golden years: “When you got hell to pay, put the truth on layaway, and blame it on that ol’ Crazy bone”.  This goes for bad behavior, poor choices, and even your physical impairments.

“Lonesome Friends of Science” laments the de-classification of Pluto as a planet, among other things that seem just as random (men in lab coats experimenting on mountain goats, for example).  There is also a terrific chorus: “the lonesome friends of science say, the world will end most any day; well if it does then that’s ok, cuz I don’t live here anyway; I live down deep inside my head, where long ago I made my bed; I get my mail in Tennessee, my wife my dog my kids and me, uh huh”.

“When I Get to Heaven” is as sassy as it is great.  This will be a definite crowd-pleaser should John decide to tour again, and a song that every bar-band in America should start covering immediately.  After a short monologue and pause, he exclaims that when he gets to the Promised Land he is going to get a cocktail (vodka and ginger ale), and then smoke a cigarette that is nine miles long.  He is also going to take his wristwatch off his arm, because what do you do with time after you bought the farm?  Excellent stuff.  This track is recorded with people making noise in the background, including a baby, and sounds like a back porch late-night jam session.  One that I wish I had been invited to, and I think you will feel the same.

Key Tracks: “When I Get to Heaven”, “Egg & Daughter Nite, Lincoln Nebraska, 1967 (Crazy Bone)”, “Lonesome Friends of Science”

 

Also heard:

Josh Rouse – Love in the Modern Age – Josh goes full-on electro pop on this one, much to my shagrin.  “I’m Your Man” is the closest resemblance of his worthy older material to be found here.

Stonefield – Far From Earth – Former Treefort revelation fails to deliver on their second LP.

Slug – Higgledy Piggledy

Breaking Benjamin – Ember

Wrekmeister Harmonies – The Alone Rush