Rhythm & Views

John Prine and Mac Wiseman

Aside from its title, the coolest thing about this collection of old country standards is the way in which it came about. Although hardly a household name, Mac Wiseman is quite well-known around country and bluegrass circles. Apparently, he was also known to John Prine.

After Nashville producer Cowboy Jack Clement encouraged Prine to reach out to Wiseman, Prine suggested they each make a list of songs they might like to record, with no limits on genre or vintage. When they eventually compared lists, out of all the songs in the world, they had picked seven in common.

Fans of Prine who are looking for his unique way with a song will probably be disappointed. This is not like Prine's 1999 collection of duets, In Spite of Ourselves. Instead, this is a heavy dose of straight-ahead country delivered by a seasoned bunch of Nashville cats with lots of dobro, fiddle and pedal steel guitar. (Only twice, in fact, was Prine even allowed to pick up a guitar.) But if you like that good-old country sound, you'll enjoy the ease with which these tunes from Lefty Frizzell, Tom T. Hall and Kris Kristofferson, among others, go down.

And to say their voices work well together would not do them justice. Through the separation of a generation (Wiseman is more than two decades the senior), there is a father-and-son quality resonating throughout that brings these tunes to life.