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On Ry Cooder’s new album “The Prodigal Son” he’s recorded eight covers of old blues and gospel songs and three new originals, illustrating his view of himself as a caretaker of American roots music, one who has returned  to where he started more than 50 years ago.

Cooder recorded most of the album playing guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin and keyboards with his son Joachim as co-producer and percussion. Reflecting his all-over-the-road legacy of work from soundtracks to solo albums to working other bands on over fifty different albums, the arrangements of the covers are sometimes true to the original, sometimes wildly reconstructed.

The original songs are among the best of his career, with sly references to present day politics while maintaining a vintage style. One of the songs is sung from the point of view of Jesus asking Woodie Guthrie sing for him as he laments the condition of the world.

Cooder began his career playing old standards that shed light on modern day life, on "The Prodigal Son" he returns with some much more experience, musical confidence and a profound sense of reverence. It’s inspiring.