Music Review: John Prine Returns to Form on ‘Bruised Orange’

John Prine's Bruised Orange

Only a few years after he’d taken the music world by storm with one of this decade’s most powerful, fully conceived debuts, folk-rocker John Prine seemed to have completely run out of steam.

Neither the first LP nor any of his increasingly uninspired followups had garnered significant airplay or sales. By late 1975, a frustrated Prine found himself straddling the “thin line between Billboard and Bellevue.” He decided to stop making records altogether for a while.

Why he recently opted for a return to the studio should be obvious to listeners of the Steve Goodman-produced Bruised Orange, Prine’s first new album in three years. Exuding the blend of compassion and inimitable zaniness that had a lot to do with his initial appeal, the instantly likable set manages commerciality without compromise and leaves no doubt that the singer has again found his muse.

Highlights range from the plaintive “If You Don’t Want My Love,” which Prine co-wrote with Phil Spector, to a vignette wherein the singer “was sitting in the bathtub, counting my toes / When the radiator broke, water all froze.” Buy the album and find out what happened next.

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