Fair & Square
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2005, Volume 12, #6
Written by T.J. Simon
After a nine-year hiatus from penning new material that was spurred by an unfortunate bout with cancer, John Prine has returned in full glory with Fair & Square, an album that showcases his straightforward songwriting with understated humor and pleasant country-folk arrangements. Although the outing’s best songs (Taking a Walk, Crazy as a Loon, and Morning Train) were co-written with multi-instrumentalist and band member Pat McLaughlin, the entire collection effortlessly reveals Prine’s talent and contains no weaknesses. Throughout the effort, Prine is in good voice — well, as good as it’s ever been — and he is assisted by Alison Krauss on both My Darlin’ Hometown and The Moon is Down. Another highlight is Some Humans Ain’t Human, a funny and poignant number that lambastes the hypocritical "family values" crowd as well as the White House. Indeed, the difference between Prine and others who embed political criticism in their lyrics is that Prine is subtle and understated, making his attacks vastly more effective. Whining folk singers everywhere should take note. Like Lyle Lovett, Prine is an artist who has carved out a niche that is free from the fickle confines of the country music establishment, and over the course of his 34 years of recording, he always has relied upon his signature style to carry him. With that in mind, Fair & Square likely will be remembered as one of the strongest albums in his vast catalog. ½
48th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Contemporary Folk Album
Of Further Interest...
Fair & Square is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box