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John Prine to perform at Ulster Hall, Belfast

John Prine

12th August 2018

Ulster Hall, Belfast

Tickets priced £49 on sale this Friday @ 10am – buy yours here

Two time Grammy-winner, singer-songwriter, John Prine is set to release his new album The Tree of Forgiveness. It’s his first album since 2005’s Grammy-winning Fair and Square. Prine teamed with Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb to record the album in Nashville’s historic Studio A, enlisting friends such as Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell, and Amanda Shores to sing along. The songs are new, although some had waited to be finished for decades, like a co-write with Phil Spector called “God Only Know.” Another incomplete song, “I Have Met My Love Today,” now celebrates the unexpected spark that leads to lifelong romance – with a dash of youthful innocence. The musical arrangements may be simpler than on past efforts, yet his unique ability to distil complex emotions into everyday language remains fully intact.

As he’s done for years, Prine found inspiration in writing sessions with close friends like Roger Cook, Pat McLaughlin and Keith Sykes. “egg and Daughter Nite, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1967 (crazy Bone)” is a light-hearted look at a bygone era, while “Caravan of Fools” (written with McLaughlin and The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach) is a contemporary meditation on the weaknesses of powerful people. The Poignant “No Ordinary Blue” wraps up a trilogy that encompasses 1991’s “You Got Gold” and 2005’s “Long Monday.” The album’s title is nestled in the final song, “When I get to Heaven,” which brings a healthy dose of levity to what might have been a grave situation. Prine revealed in 2013 that an operable form of cancer had been found on his lung. Fortunately an operation proved successful. The diagnosis followed a 1998 surgery for neck cancer, which made him give up smoking for good.

“That was 20 years ago and I still miss cigarettes.” He admits. “If somebody lights up, I’ll go stand next to them after they fire up so I can get that initial blast. So I’d written this chorus about having my favourite cocktail and having a cigarette that’s nine miles long. I kept thinking, ‘Where the hell can I do that?’ The only place I can get away with that it is in Heaven because there’s no cancer there. So, the chorus dictated the setting of the song. I made up the verses around that.”

The Tree of Forgiveness is a family affair, too. (that’s Prine’s grandson giggling on the final track.) Following the 2015 death of business partner and manager Al Bunetta, Fiona Whelan Prine took on a management role. Their son Jody Whelan leads Oh Boy Records, which launched in 1981. As Nashville’s longest operating indie label, Ob Boy expanded into book publishing in 2017 with Prine’s Beyond Words, which is an enchanting compilation of impeccable lyrics, guitar charts, vintage photos, and personal anecdotes from across his singular career.

Forty-five years into a remarkable career that has drawn effusive praise from Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt, Roger Waters, Tom Petty, and others who would know, Prine is a smiling, shuffling force for good. He is a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member whose classic debut album, simply titled John Prine, is recognized as part of the Recording Academy’s Grammy Hall of Fame. His songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Tom T. Hall, the Everly Brothers, Carly Simon, Bette Midler, Norah Jones, George Strait, Miranda Lambert, and many others. He has collaborated with musical heroes from Bruce Springsteen to Mac Wiseman, and has been name-checked in songs by Country Music Hall of Famer, Vince Gill, and contemporary country songbird Kacey Musgraves.

Prine won his first Grammy for the 1991 album, The Missing Years, and he joined the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003. The Grammy Hall of Fame inducted his 1971 self-titled debut album in 2014. Two years later he accepted the PEN New England’s Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award. At the age of 70, he was named Artist of the Year by the Americana Music Association in 2017. Naturally, The Tree of Forgiveness is rooted in that same observant songwriting that’s he crafted throughout his career.

“I kept saying when I was doing this album, it’s going to be my last one,” Prine admits with a grin. “But if things go really good with it, I can’t see why I wouldn’t do something else.”

Tickets priced £49 on sale this Friday @ 10am – buy yours here