When word got around that John Prine was working on another album of country duets, there was no shortage of talented women eager to share vocals with the beloved singer and lyricist.
For Better, Or Worse will be released Sept. 30 on Oh Boy Records, but we’ve already gotten a glimpse of what the album has to offer. The latest release, “I’m Telling You,” features Prine trading playful vocal spars with Holly Williams. The song has special significance for Williams; her grandmother Audrey first recorded the song in 1949.
Though the song wasn’t originally written as a duet, Prine and Williams’ sweetly mischievous delivery captures the spirit of the classic country duets of Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, as well as Loretta Lynn and Ernest Tubb.
The album, which also features appearances by Kacey Musgraves, Morgane Stapleton, Lee Ann Womack and Miranda Lambert, is a follow up to Prine’s 1999 album In Spite of Ourselves.
The humorous title track to that album, featuring Iris DeMent, is perhaps Prine’s most well known and loved duet. DeMent makes two appearances on For Better, Or Worse, sharing vocals with Prine on the track “Who’s Gonna Take the Garbage Out” and “Mr. and Mrs. Used to Be,” both originally recorded by Loretta Lynn and Ernest Tubb.
“I just always loved hearing a man and a woman sing back and forth to each other,” Prine told NPR. “Particularly country songs, but I like some of the pop duets, and I even like in musicals where they’re singing back and forth to each other and there’s a storyline there, you know? But I think in country nothing gets more to the point, and you can also mix up some humor with it.”
Prine is currently on tour throughout the U.S. He’ll also be performing a much anticipated set at Nashville’s AmericanaFest on Sept. 22, as well as two back-to-back shows at the Ryman Auditorium on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.