Rolling Stone - 9/16/71, p.43
"...a very solid good-timey singer who is at least talented enough to be forgiven for a few of his trespasses..."
John Denver's breakthrough album, 1971's POEMS, PRAYERS AND PROMISES, is also one of his best. In addition to containing two of Denver's strongest and best-known compositions, "Take Me Home, Country Roads" and "Sunshine on My Shoulders," POEMS, PRAYERS AND PROMISES epitomizes the straightforward folk of the artist's early recordings, without the country and pop influences that would find their way into his later '70s work. The disc has a close, intimate feel, with Denver's softly finger-picked guitar and clear, plaintive tenor front and center throughout.
The reflective lyrics and pensive mood of the title track sets the tone for the rest of the record. Though Denver includes a few covers, the Beatles' "Let It Be" and James Taylor's "Fire and Rain" among them, he is at his best with own tunes, like the wistful "I Guess He'd Rather Be in Colorado," or the unabashedly romantic and tender "My Sweet Lady." Denver's ability to express simple, sincere sentiments is in top form on this recording, making it one of his most directly affecting efforts.