Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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***

JOHN PRINE
Fair and Square
Oh Boy

Happily married old-timer suffers enough to come up with an album

Because John Prine has ranked among our finest songwriters for 35 years, his first album of new material in a decade is a gift. Its two undeniable keepers are up there with his "Hello in There" and "Lake Marie": the weary "Some Humans Ain't Human," a Nashville immigrant's mild, devastating rebuke to the greedheads he rubs shoulders with, and the jolly "She Is My Everything," which makes you wonder why other guys find it so hard to write credible love songs about wives they adore. Most of them do, however--domestic bliss is hell on the confessional muse. And while Prine's fans will admire how smoothly he downshifts from contentment to melancholy and back up again, the unconverted will wish he'd stop relaxing into indirection and Sunday drives down well-traveled roads.

Blender, May 2005