It is hard to believe that a year has passed since the legendary John Prine died and it’s a fitting tribute to premiere this excellent cover of one of Prine’s greatest songs. Following his well-received album ‘Beauty & Ruin’ in February 2020, David Starr has been keeping busy with his ‘Touchstones’ project, through which he is releasing a new single every month for a year. Quarantine gave Starr the opportunity to reflect on the artists that have inspired him over the years and the songs that have influenced his own music. The resulting ‘Touchstones’ covers album is a chance for Starr to honour those great musicians. Recent singles have included songs by the likes of Bob Dylan and Jackson Brown. Prine’s ‘Angel from Montgomery’ is the sixth ‘Touchstones’ release and one that is particularly meaningful for Starr, who explains his feelings for the Prine classic: “John’s writing has inspired me and countless others over the years to be better at our craft. So, when I decided to record my Touchstones album of cover songs in 2020, ‘Angel From Montgomery’ was always on the short list of songs for the record. I’ve played it for years all over the US and in the UK. The response is universally warm; as if it belongs to us all. That seems to be the magic and legacy of John’s songs. And I am profoundly grateful for the gift of his music.”
Starr’s version of ‘Angel from Montgomery’ is fabulously layered, with Dan Dugmore’s pedal steel, Martha Ditto’s cello, John Prentice’s electric guitar and Irene Kelley’s excellent backing adding depth and texture. The song is lifted even higher by Erik Stucky’s tinkling mandolin. Collectively, Starr and his talented collaborators make well-known and much-loved song sound new, which is a genuine achievement.
Look out for further ‘Touchstones’ releases over the coming months. But, for now, check this out and take a moment to reflect on the gifts John Prine gave us.