In Spite of Ourselves
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You've got to hand it to John Prine. On the first song on In Spite of Ourselves he plunges valiantly into "(We're Not) The Jet Set", singing the part made famous by George Jones, the Caruso of country music. And Prine, never blessed with the most pliant pipes, promptly pancakes a note flatter than Kansas. Aw, heck! The songwriter's songwriter takes a curious turn with his first studio album since 1995's Lost Dogs & Mixed Blessings. Here he's penned only the hysterically coarse title track, opting instead to coo a slew of classic lovin'-and-losin' country tunes with Iris Dement, Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris, Connie Smith, Trisha Yearwood, Melba Montgomery, Patty Loveless, Fiona Prine and Dolores Keane. Given Prine's ragged-but-right voice, the effect is something akin to casting a grizzled character actor opposite Katherine Hepburn in Philadelphia Story. And you know what? It'd probably still be a charming (albeit very different) movie, because romantic comedies, like country duets, are all about chemistry, which is something this collection of duets has in excess. --Steven Stolder
Top Customer Reviews
All the songs are country classics, several of them associated with George Jones and most of the others dating from the fifties and sixties. I see from the other reviewers that John's traditional fans do not all like this album. It is a departure from John's usual music, so that is inevitable. John recorded the album because he wanted to, and he obviously enjoyed himself. None of the ladies were contractually obliged to sing with John - they all agreed voluntarily when asked. Perhaps that's why this album works so well - it wasn't recorded to make a fast buck, yet it probably sold as well as any of John's other albums.
Fans of traditional country will enjoy this. John's loyal fans must make up their own minds.