Lost Dogs + Mixed Blessings
Produced by Howie Epstein, Lost Dogs + Mixed Blessings was a new approach for John Prine. The band features master players from the L.A. studio scene, including guitarist Waddy Wachtel, multi-instrumentalist John Jorgenson, keyboardist Benmont Tench, and bassist Bob Glaub. Unsurprisingly, the result sounds more than a little like '90s-era Tom Petty; that's not a bad thing, especially on “Lake Marie,” “Same Thing Happened to Me," and “New Train.” The nondescript production of “We Are the Lonely” disguises what are easily some of Prine’s most hilariously self-deprecating lyrics: “White divorced swinging male/Seeks company to no avail/Worthless ruthless toothless man/Wants wealthy woman with a plan.” As much as fans and producers might want to try out new styles on Prine, there's no denying the effect of “Day Is Done,” “This Love Is Real," and “He Forgot That It Was Sunday,” which essentially feature his voice and an acoustic guitar. Such songs provide a pleasure equal to watching fresh bread rise in a clay oven. But the real jewel is the closer, “I Love You So Much It Hurts,” a sweetly askew piano ballad worthy of Nilsson or Newman.