You would honestly assume that Prine's first disc after nine years and a successful recovery from cancer would unwrap itself and jump merrily into my CD player, but alas, it took a few days. Now it can stay there as long as it wants.
Fair & Square full heartedly snuggles up alongside the man's best - Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings, John Prine Sweet Revenge, and Bruised Orange. Prickly, deadpan, and back porch beautiful, Prine settles into the details of this life and invites us to do the same. From the jangly, big hearted happiness of Glory of True Love ("Never goes out of fashion/Always will look good on you"); to the wild pursuit of fame and fortune on Crazy As A Loon' ("Got hired Monday morning/Downsized that afternoon"), Prine mines the spirit, finding it, for the most part, simple and true. That is, until Some Humans Ain't Human where, with one verse, he celebrates and cautions with the wisdom of the ages: ("Have you ever noticed/When you're feeling really good/There's always a pigeon/That'll come sh-t on your hood"). Yessiree I have!!!
All this and we're only five songs into the CD. Allison Krauss duets on the bittersweet My Darlin' Hometown. Mindy Smith joins the meditative Talking A Walk. On anyone else's work, Blaze Foley's exquisite Clay Pigeons might stand as the capper, but here, surrounded by the music Prine generously reveals, it falls beautifully into place. Two bonus tracks, a live, previously unreleased Other Side of Town and the straight forward folk of Safety Joe only add shine to a most welcome luminosity. Simply the best disc of 2005 so far.
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