John Prine – Bruised Orange

Well ol’ Prineypants is back and in classic form, and we should all be slightly happy, because now there’s a few more songs to make us happy while the boomers hold a going out of business sale with our economy. So it’s nice to relax a bit and remind ourselves that they aren’t all shitty Bob Seger wannabes. Prine’s back to being literal, funny, sad, Priney. This is good; he wasn’t terrible at being vague, but he’s something special when he taps into his wellspring of sideways pathos.

There’s three classics that are all the adjectives I used last minute – “Fish and Whistle,” “That’s the Way the World Goes ‘Round,” and “Sabu Visits the Twin Cities Alone.” They’re all terribly clever, but touching like this guy’s got a wonderful soul down inside, and everything from wistfulling about your dad to a touring has been to abuse can be packaged as “It’s a half an inch of water and you think you’re gonna drown / That’s the way that the world goes ’round.” An honourable mention to “Crooked Piece of Time,” a similar sentiment to the lightness of being that’s only slightly less catchy and memorable.

Elsewhere on this album there’s three enjoyable rockabilly throwaways and three numbers that take themselves a bit too seriously, but have nice thoughts at heart. Though “The Hobo Song” has always grated on my nerves. It isn’t really fair to bemoan a lack of fires “burnin’ down by the old railway tracks” when those people almost certainly didn’t enjoy the abject poverty that implies. But okay, there’s a long ode to not being bitter and I’m including that in my songs to pass by, and it’s the title track, but I think history has heard my point of view on this issue.

This isn’t a particularly “important” album, more one to fill half a short hour with on a Sunday afternoon, and all the meaningful reflections are on how reflections are inherently short on meaning. But hey, half an inch of water. Profundity takes relaxed forms at times. Nice album here.

8/10

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