John Prine (from the album Tree of Forgiveness available on Oh Boy! Records)
In an age of full disclosure, I feel the need to disclose. As I write the review for the new John Prine album, Tree of Forgiveness, I am wearing a sweat shirt that reads I Don’t Need Therapy I Just Need to Listen to John Prine. I wear the shirt often, I do not often get to mention why that line is 100% correct as much. Here is why…..
The clue for Tree of Forgiveness album title is found in the final cut on the album, “When I Get to Heaven”. Following a transitional harp tone, John Prine walks his first steps into the Great Beyond, taking time to say thanks before he picks up a guitar, gets a band, opens a nightclub called Tree of Forgiveness, and remember to forget all past transgressions against his person. There was also mention of a cocktail and a nine-mile long cigarette. While the past albums of John Prine have all held some of the author in the stories as well as offering plenty of space for other characters, Tree of Forgiveness is the most obviously personal collection of words and music from John Prine. There are moments of mortality and frivolity that leapfrog through the songs, frequently appearing in the same sentence. Faith is strong on the album, John Prine seeing the deal as between just two, the man and the heavenly house, as “God Only Knows” reveals the innerworkings of a mind as decisions roll like credits across a screen. Tree of Forgiveness opens its doors for choices on a larger scale as it watches a long line of humanity approaching in a “Caravan of Fools” while John Prine pens a love letter thank you note with “Boundless Love”.
Where do songs come from? John Prine found the songs for Tree of Forgiveness living within the four walls of a hotel room. John’s wife was familiar with his comfort zone, booking him a room at a local Nashville hotel. It was the perfect setting for man and muse to hang out, John worrying slightly as he checked in recalling that ‘I said, ‘If anybody sees me checking into the Omni, they’ll figure Fiona and I are on the outs. I grabbed my stuff just as fast as I could. She knows that after being on the road so many years, I function better in a hotel, so that’s what I did. I ordered room service and worked and watched my quiz shows. No pressure. This way, if I wanted to write at 3 in the morning, or 3 in the afternoon, I could. I’d go out to the swimming pool and go eat at the steakhouse. It worked out because by the end of the week, I was ready to go into the studio’. Produced by Dave Cobb and recorded in Nashville, Tennessee in historic RCA Studio A, Tree of Forgiveness welcomes friends with Brandi Carlile featured on “I Have Met My Love Today”, Jason Isbell plugging in electric guitar for “No Ordinary Blue”, and Amanda Shires with fiddle and background vocals on the Phil Spector co-write, “God Only Knows”. Using Tree of Forgiveness as a platform to vent, John Prine voices his displeasure at the planet Pluto being marked-down (“The Lonesome Friends of Science”) as he shares a smile looking at times when local farmers left the door open and young roosters came to call (“Egg and Daughter Night, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1967”). Heart and humor have been the ink in John Prine’s pen for over fifty years, decades of memories becoming seasonal breezes blowing warm winds through Tree of Forgiveness with “Knockin’ on Your Screen Door” and the tender beckoning home of “Summer’s End”.
Listen and buy the music of John Prine from AMAZON