In Spite of Ourselves

In Spite of Ourselves

Minus its Prine-written title track, 1999’s In Spite of Ourselves is effectively a covers album, pairing Prine with some of the best female alt-ish country singers of its time: Emmylou Harris, Patty Loveless, Lucinda Williams, Iris DeMent. The arrangements are stripped back, the delivery sweet, casual, and felt—Prine in particular had been adjusting to a rougher voice after having had a tumor removed from his neck the year before. (He’d been shaving around it, thinking it was a blood vessel.) As suits a guy like Prine, the selections here avoid the lofty for the lived-in and down-to-earth: “(We’re Not) The Jet Set” (“…we’re the old Chevrolet set”), “Loose Talk” (“I know you love me and happy we could be/If some folks would leave us alone”), the eyebrow-raising “Let’s Invite Them Over” (“We’re not in love with each other, we’re in love with our best friends/So let’s invite them over again”). The jewel, though, is the title track, in which a couple catalogs their mutual peccadilloes with such hilarious specificity—she gets turned on by convict movies, he gets caught rifling through her underwear drawer—one figures they’ve gotta be either too stupid or just too in love to leave.

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