‘For Better, Or Worse’ by John Prine (Album)

6 October, 2016 in Music Reviews

John Prine

John Prine: tackles the works of Hank Williams, George Jones and other giants of the genre

The talented songwriter once again works with some of country’s leading female artists on this latest collection of cover songs

John Prine 'For Better, Or Worse' album coverI take too much abuse from you, that’s all I ever get / And calling a man like you a husband is just like calling old wild cat a pet.” Those traded barbs between John Prine and Iris Dement on Who’s Gonna Take The Garbage Out provide a fittingly feisty start to this album of country covers. There’s plenty more spousal sparring and sharp wit to follow, as Prine tackles the works of Hank Williams, George Jones and other giants of the genre. No slouch himself in the songwriting stakes, he’s more than up to the task.

For this sequel to his 1999 album In Spite Of Ourselves, Prine has once again gathered an astonishing array of country’s finest female artists. What elevates the record is the little changes that Prine and his collaborators have made. Subtle amendments to the lyrics on the Kacey Musgraves duet Mental Cruelty and Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (sang with Amanda Shires) change the dynamics to give equal weight to both sides of the argument. By transforming I’m Telling You into a duet with Holly Williams the story changes from a wife’s lament into a couple’s struggle to remain faithful.

Prine’s voice is deeper and more conversational than ever and is the perfect counterpoint throughout. From legends like Alison Krause (on Falling In Love Again) to modern day sensations like Miranda Lambert (Cold, Cold Heart) everyone seems comfortable in his presence and more than happy to spend some time duelling with the veteran musician on this wonderful selection of country music.

Verdict: A covers album with serious merit

Duncan Haskell

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