John Prine

In Person & On Stage

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A die-hard fan could, by now, accuse John Prine of coasting and have a good argument. Of the few albums he's released since the turn of the century, only one, 2005's Fair & Square, contained new material, and that one came only after a songwriting hiatus of about a decade. Why Prine has virtually given up on producing new material is known, one would assume, only to him, and that's a shame, because in Prine's prime, the '70s and '80s, he was not just prolific but consistently brilliant. In Person & On Stage, it should come as no surprise given the title, that this is yet another rehash, Prine's third official live album, with nary a new tune aboard. Cut at different shows with guitarist/mandolinist Jason Wilber and bassist Dave Jacques, both of whom also provide background vocals, the collection also features a number of guest artists, among them Iris DeMent, Josh Ritter, and Emmylou Harris, who is her usual arresting self on "Angel from Montgomery," a track from Prine's 1971 debut that has since become quite possibly his most covered composition. Prine also draws from that debut with updated renditions of "Spanish Pipedream" (which opens the album), "Paradise" (which closes it), and "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You into Heaven Anymore," but he doesn't restrict himself to older material, offering four songs from the above-mentioned Fair & Square, as well. Prine's performance is solid -- his voice has gotten grainier over the years, but his delivery is no less impassioned. Now if only he would get back to writing.

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