John Prine

Souvenirs – 2000 (Oh Boy)

Reviewed by Michael Berick

In his liner notes, John Prine plainly states his purpose behind making this disc - to secure his own master recordings for these songs of his. It also afforded him the opportunity to revisit some of his favored tunes and demonstrate again that he is one of best songwriters around.

Recorded over a brief three-day period, this album holds a warm, relaxed feel. Prine's always raspy voice has added a few more cracks and creaks over the years. Songs like "Hello In There" and "Angel From Montgomery," which both deal with aging, now fit even more naturally with his vocals. Perhaps it's the knowledge that Prine recently survived a cancer scare, but these new renditions also seem to exude more wistful and poignant qualities. Many tracks (such as "Storm Windows") project an increased emotional depth, while "Fish & Whistle" now lacks its original playfulness.

The record's restrained, sympathetic arrangements keep the focus on Prine and his wonderful words; however, this also spotlights the album's main disappointment - that these are all old tunes. This disc, consequently, winds up as an endearing, entertaining stopgap for fans waiting to hear new gems from this talented songwriter.