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Music Review: The Prodigal Son

by Ry CooderFantasy Records
reviewed by John Malkin
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THE PRODIGAL SON is Ry Cooder’s first solo album in six years—and it’s about time. These 11 songs glide along a musical journey back to the roots of Southern blues, slide guitars, and spiritual reverence. And the lyrics—particularly in Cooder’s three original tunes—cast a keen eye on the dilemmas of the modern world.

In the press release for the album, Cooder says, “I do connect the political/economic dimensions with the inner life of people, since people are at risk and oppressed on all on / And I don’t mean a war for oil, or gold / Or trivial things of that kind / But I heard the news, the vigilante man is on the move this time / Now they’re starting up their engine of hate.” Plus this warning: “You good people better get together / Or you ain’t got a chance anymore.”

Photo by Joachim Cooder

Ry Cooder’s international collaborations have resulted in albums with Mali’s Ali Farka Touré (Talking Timbukti—1994), India’s Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (A Meeting by The River—1993), and Cuban musicians Juan de Marcos González, Ibrahim Ferrer, and others for the 1997 album Buena Vista Social Club. Cooder even wrote a novel that comes with its own album, I, Flathead (2008)—and his soundtrack for Wim Wenders’s spacious 1985 film Paris, Texas is a classic. —JOHN MALKIN


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