An exceptionally well crafted outing from William Prince, the masterful production being the cherry on top of an already delicious cake.
If there is one producer’s name that’s sure to quicken the heart of any Americana fan, it’s got to be Dave Cobb. Winnipeg based William Prince has worked with Cobb previously, but only as a co-producer alongside Scott Nolan on 2020’s ‘Reliever’, but it’s on Prince’s fourth album – ‘Stand in the Joy’ – that Cobb takes solo control of the reins of producer, and with a talent like Prince’s, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that the pair might just be a match made in heaven.
“When you miss someone / Tears you apart and then some / When you miss someone / Someone you love,” Prince states conversationally on the opener ‘When You Miss Someone’, phrasing almost more of a question than a statement and for such a casual tone, it’s remarkable how it makes the longing feel more tangible than it otherwise might. “Brother, don’t drive fast / Hard enough to see you as it is,” he cautions on ‘Only Thing We Need’. “And when you do come back maybe it’ll be more like it was / And time will be the only thing we need”; feeling like a long drive on a clear open road, it’s a song so smooth and easy in tone, that its deep – and at times dark – message manages to slip down as easy as liquid honey.
Put simply, ‘Tanqueray’ features lyrics so blindsiding in their impact that they’re a strong contender for lyric of the year. “Tanqueray on your lips then mine / Tattoo of cheap red wine tracing the smile on your face,” Prince utters on the chorus, and such is his talent for lyric writing that with the setting of such a simple scene he can convey very complex and fully realised emotions. Looking back at the innocence of youth, on ‘Young’ Prince wonders if he’s lived up to what he hoped he might: “Shoulda had it all by now / According to my younger self / What ain’t down on paper means nothin’ in the real world,” he reflects with little disappointment, instead realising that it’s never too late (“We can start over again / Nothing is out of our reach / We can be all that we dreamed when we were young”).
‘Broken Heart of Mine’ channels classic country, the twang on pedal steel marrying perfectly with Prince’s crooned lyrics of heartbreak, a vibe that is neatly carried over into the ensuing ‘Pasadena’. “We went past Pasadena / Set up camp ‘round Mexico / Honey, I can’t go back to Kansas / If I don’t have you in my arms,” Prince bemoans sadly. “She’s a movie you leave on / Cactus Flower Goldie Hawn,” he tells us on the titular ‘Goldie Hawn’, with – as is Prince’s talent – words that shouldn’t necessarily make sense but implicitly do.
Feeling rather like a companion piece of the classic standard ‘A Satisfied Mind’, ‘Peace of Mind’ sees Prince reminding us that he has no need for extravagance (“I don’t need a Chevrolet to get around / A rocket with some stickers on the side / Give me my bare feet and I’ll walk door to door / And stand in the joy where I’ve never stood before”) when “peace of mind” is the ultimate reward in a life properly lived. “There’s a woman in bed, with nothing on and she’s laying next to me / And when she wakes up I oughta be more like who she loved when we first met,” he muses, voice gravelly and smoky with words that hit like a ton of bricks, on the closer ‘Take a Look Around’. “There’s a kid in the yard, wild and free, not as young as he was once was / And I hope he grows into someone that he truly loves / Light in the heart, courageous and sharp, knows how to roll with the punches,” he continues, ultimately finishing with: “I hope he knows when he’s done wrong / I hope he feels me when I’m gone / Cause it won’t be long now / So take a good look around.”
One beauty of Cobb’s production is that it always gives Prince’s lyrics and soulful voice room to breathe, never crowding and always complimenting. Sure, Prince’s rare talent means he could put out a great record produced by almost anyone, but a super producer like Cobb only makes things more super, and that’s a boon for music lovers everywhere.