Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

John Prine: The Tree of Forgiveness [Oh Boy, 2018]
The 71(?)-year-old's second album of new originals since 1995 is bare-faced skimpy--10 songs lasting a shade over half an hour where 2005's pretty darn good Fair and Square almost filled a CD. Barely produced, too--quiet g-b-d touched by occasional piano riffs or organ colors, with a few numbers just strummed-and-sung in a voice I never thought I'd say was going because it was already gone when it got here. It daydreams some in the middle, too. Yet it's a keeper to be grateful for, and grateful he is. "Eternity is approaching fast," he notes in the "old folks home" singalong "Crazy Bone," and he's not always so jaunty about it. But in the end, he gets to heaven, where he forgives his enemies, re-enters show business, reconnects with every single aunt, and smokes "a cigarette that's nine miles long." A-