By Holly Smith
This Far South reminds us that yes, Tommy Prine is his father's son, but he is his mother's too. At the heart of everything, he's just a guy with a guitar and something of his own to say.
2. Crashing Again
3. This Far South
4. Reach the Sun
5. By The Way
6. Mirror and a Kitchen Sink
8. Some Things
9. Letter to My Brother
10. Cash Carter Hill
11. I Love You, Always
Without meaning to chide, it's fair to assume that when Tommy Prine released his stunning debut single, 'Ships in the Harbour', in 2022, most of us were guilty of the same, lazy assumption: he's John Prine Jr.
It wasn't necessarily incorrect. He literally is his father's son; the song was about the loss of his dad, and it showed the same truthful and devastating songwriting skills as him.
From the opening notes of Prine's debut album, This Far South, you realise that whilst that assumption wasn't a miscalculation, it was an incredibly reductive underestimation of Tommy's abilities and influences. For let us not forget: he was born in the 90s and reared in the 00s.
That he would make an album like this, melding his songwriting prowess with grungey rock, emo influences and darkly biblical imagery after a devastating loss, should come as no surprise.
We open on 'Elohim', a Hebrew name for God, where he references shadow people and promised lands he can't find, singing "I don't believe in god or Elohim, cause they're the ones that I've never seen". 'Crashing Again' opens on a delightfully retro, Queen-sounding guitar twang that sits underneath a lyric sheet that's as 90s as its title.
The title-track slows us down to a gorgeous acoustic lull, recalling fans to a song like Ruston Kelly's 'Faceplant', while also referencing Germantown and deals with existential habits, coming down and angels.
In fact, it leads us to perhaps the least surprising thing about this album once you've heard it: the co-producer credit for the dirt emo connoisseur himself, the aforementioned Mr Kelly.
'Mirror and a Kitchen Sink' is a fun romp with a truly shout-along chorus. You might consider Shakespeare to be an older reference, but only people of a certain age will recognise the potential of its dual roots in the craze for adapting Shakespeare texts into teen comedies in the 90s. In fact, this track sounds like it could have been lifted directly from the soundtrack of one of those films.
'By the Way' is a languid, steel-driven cut that deals directly with the loss of his father: the songs they used to sing, the universally inevitable regret of wishing that you'd spent more time with a loved one before they had to leave, and the pain and pride of looking just like them.
'Love You Always' draws on his Celtic heritage, bringing us to a truly wistful close.
It reminds us that yes, Tommy Prine is his father's son, but he is his mother's too. At the heart of everything, he's just a guy with a guitar and something of his own to say.
Tommy Prine's 2023 album, This Far South, is out June 23 via Nameless Knight and Thirty Tigers.
For more on Tommy Prine, see below: