It’s been almost ten years since the iconic John Prine released a CD of new original songs. During that time, he ran his own record label, became the first songwriter ever to read and perform at the Library of Congress and overcame cancer.
His new CD, Fair&Square, is quintessential Prine — “wry, compassionate, good-natured and a little absurd” (American Songwriter) —, but his battle with neck cancer has given his voice a deeper sound.“You know, for better or worse, I’d never liked my voice much before,” he said. “My voice dropped, so the first thing we had to do was change the key on a lot of the songs … and they became totally brand new. I’d never have bet that would happen; but it totally changed my attitude about performing … it got really interesting again.”
For fans and critics, Prine’s work has had the same appeal since he came into the national spotlight in the ’70s. Billboard wrote: “Nine years is way too long without a fresh batch of John Prine originals, but the so-dang-human Fair&Square is worth the wait. … Prine plays Nashville poet with his lyrics. They are poignant, lovely and all delivered with conversational ease.”
Even with the overwhelmingly positive praise for Fair&Square, Prine has kept his same wry sense of humor about its success. “When people tell me it’s been nine years since my last record — what was I doing? Well, you know, time just kind of slips away … Time’s just flowing and I’m not even sure where it went. … I’ve been on the road. I’ve been with my family. I’ve been writing songs and I’ve been producing a record. I guess it takes time to get all these things right. Although, I know I’m not going for perfection — unless there’s such a thing as a perfect mistake.”
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