In Review: Kurt Vile - Speed, Sound, Lonely KV

One of the last artists to record with the late John Prine, Kurt Vile pays a touching tribute to the folk icon, alongside some original compositions that proves a commonality binding both musicians.
Posted: 12 October 2020 Words: Georgia Spanos

Ahh, now this is exactly what we needed, a brand new Kurt Vile EP of both original jangles and covers from country-folk heroes Jack Clement and the recently passed John Prine (who sadly died of coronavirus this year). Speed, Sound, Lonely KV is richly comprised of two new Vile tracks, ‘Dandelion’ and ‘Pearls’, two Prine covers, ‘Speed of the Sound of Loneliness’ and ‘How Lucky’ (featuring Prine himself), and one Clement cover titled ‘Gone Girl’. The EP was recorded in Nashville's honoured Butcher Shoppe, where Vile travelled to immerse himself within the music and singer-songwriters that inhabit the area. 

Instantly as the EP commences with ‘Speed of the Sound of Loneliness’, we can feel this creation was equal parts rewarding as it was revelating. Vile shares shortly after reworking a Prine classic with the icon himself, “I was floating and flying and I couldn't hear anything he told me while he was there till after he was gone for the night.” The release of the EP comes at sensitive times as the devastating passing of 73-year-old Prine shocked the world and music industry entirely. Vile and Prine’s duet, ‘How Lucky’ is now amongst some of Prine’s last recorded songs. The two performed the track at a New Year’s Eve celebration at the turn of 2020, Vile expressing “that’s just how lucky we all got that night.” 

Although a famed musician and performer, Prine was mostly cherished for his humorous and supreme lyrics that spanned five decades. He influenced some of the world’s greatest musicians such as Bob Dylan who once stated “he writes beautiful songs ... nobody but Prine could write like that.” Yet it’s not just his classics that are loved - Prine’s last album in 2018, The Tree of Forgiveness, debuted at number five on the All-Genre Billboard 200, his best-ever ranking on that chart. 

It takes pure talent to make music that shines through any time or place or era. Speed, Sound, and Lonely KV demonstrates nothing less. Although we can distinguish musical independence between the artists – Vile’s own songs gifting lo-fi tempos and gentleness with Prine and Clement’s of more rusticity – Speed, Sound, and Lonely KV comes together peacefully. On large, the acoustic-dominant sounds that all artists expel allow greater focus on their touching lyrics, the commonality binding the artists, and the brilliant tribute EP.

Speed, Sound, and Lonely KV is out now via Matador Records.

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