The Tree Of Forgiveness – John Prine Reviewed

Read Laura and Andy’s review of ‘The Tree Of Forgiveness’ by John Prine

 

John Prine

 

By Laura Coates and Andrew Wrigglesworth*

 

 

 

 

Purchase link

John Prine has long been seen as the beloved Granddaddy of Contemporary Americana.  At 71, he has just been nominated for Artist of the Year in the 2018 Americana Music Association Honors & Awards, the same prize he took home last year.  We’ve tried in vain to catch him live over the years but tickets sell out faster than the Speed of the Sound of Loneliness!

And it’s no surprise really, when the writing is this good.  When you count Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson and Jason Isbell as some of your biggest fans, you must be doing something right.  John Prine has written some of the world’s best break-up songs (“All the Best”), anti-war songs (“Sam Stone”) songs of existential crisis (“The Late John Garfield Blues”) and the frailties of humanity in “That’s The Way The World Goes ‘Round” etc.

But what John specialises in is songs of the Everyman and that’s what you’ll find most on this new album, The Tree of Forgiveness.  There isn’t as much of the social commentary of previous deliveries, though you’ll find that in the gaps and spaces left for the listener.  You’ll still find the gritty realism, the sometimes wistful, other times witty reflections on the human condition and our shared torments and delights.  An elevation of the ordinary and the mundane.  But there’s an even greater wisdom present in this new offering, his first of original material in 13 years.  There are a number of new life lessons and more investigations into our own mortality, particularly in “Summer’s End” and “When I Get to Heaven

Prine fans will welcome the new release like a warm, familiar hug from an old friend.  The world-weary voice of someone who has cheated death a couple of times, the characteristic melodies and trademark pickin’ patterns, the wry humour, stories of the collective experience of being alive but perhaps more of a focus on finding peace, love, happiness and something closer to the meaning of life; revelations about the simple joys and simple pleasures.  But it’s not all sunshine and roses (such is life!) with tracks such as “Caravan of Fools” and “The Lonesome Friends of Science” packing a political punch.

Thankfully, producer Dave Cobb has approached this album with a light touch, with elegantly sparse arrangements making it a mostly acoustic LP with welcome additions from Brandi Carlile (the catchy duet, “I Have Met My Love Today”), Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires.  The vocals and thus lyrics are right at the fore, where they should be.  The songs are beautiful in their simplicity.  Our favourite tracks include “Summer’s End” and “Caravan of Fools”.

 

(ed: *Laura Coates and Andrew Wrigglesworth are the folk/Americana duo The Weeping Willows).

 

Thumbnail photo credit – Felicity O’Meara

 

Read Laura and Andy’s review of ‘The Tree Of Forgiveness’ by John Prine

Read Laura and Andy’s review of ‘The Tree Of Forgiveness’ by John Prine

 

 

 

 

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Author: Rob Dickens

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