John Prine In Spite of Ourselves (Oh Boy)
In Spite of Ourselves (Oh Boy)
Reviewed by Jerry Renshaw, Fri., Nov. 12, 1999
In Spite of Ourselves (Oh Boy)John Prine, one of the pre-eminent singer-songwriters of the last 20 years, almost totally sheds his folky trappings for this release, teaming up with a string of female vocalists for country duets. He certainly found the cream of the crop, too, from new artists (Patty Loveless, Trisha Yearwood), tried-and-true artists (Iris DeMent, Lucinda Williams), and never-to-be-forgotten artists (Emmylou Harris, Melba Montgomery). The choice of songs is especially delicious; Webb Pierce's "Back Street Affair," Hank Williams' "Wedding Bells," and Freddie Hart's "Loose Talk," among others. Prine's raw, craggy voice is the perfect foil for the honeyed partners in these songs, but the tunes that feature Melba Montgomery's Southern yowl work even b etter. The spare instrumentation of the backup band gives this In Spite of Ourselves the quiet dignity of a Shaker chair, with unobtrusive production and performances. Since the early Seventies, Prine has had a core audience, and every release of his is guaranteed to sell X number of units. It's nice to see him bank on the reputation he so richly deserves and take a chance with a traditional country release. It probably doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of getting country radio airplay, but that just reflects what's wrong with country radio, and not what's right with gentleman John Prine.