Rolling Stone - 12/23/71, p.64
"...It's good to have such a fine new talent around who is both interesting and provocative. If he's this good this young, time should be on his side..."
Spin - p.101
"[The] everyday detail and poetic imagery have the hallmarks of a natural genius."
Q - 9/96, p.1324 Stars
- Excellent - "...A rebirth of roots country with a fold troubadour delivery oft compared to Dylan, it touched on social issues with an acrid wit....Chock-full of classic performances and Prine's most noted songs...it's a biting collection that's just as moving today."
There were a lot of "New Dylans" knocking around at the onset of the '70s, but Prine proved to be a powerful artistic voice in his own right, with plenty of staying power. His debut is full of the songs that inspired Kris Kristoffersson to help the young Chicago songwriter score a record deal. Largely based on country/folk traditions as filtered through the then-new "singer-songwriter" sound, Prine's tunes contain both wry humor and penetrating emotional insights. "Illegal Smile" is a light-hearted ode to marijuana and "Pretty Good" is an absurdist tale that manages to be both existential and sprightly at the same time.
The real gems here are the more personal character studies. "Hello in There" is a touching but completely unsentimental plea for understanding and kindness toward the elderly. "Sam Stone" is a harrowing, sharply observed portrait of a Vietnam vet. The most enduring song here is the gorgeous ballad "Angel From Montgomery," about a woman stuck in a bleak relationship, voicing her wish for deliverance. JOHN PRINE is one of the most auspicious debuts of the early '70s.