Kurt Vile and John Prine were natural collaborators. In addition to their knack for using observational humor to magnify pathos and pathos to magnify humor, both have talents that have been largely overlooked. Prine is such a remarkable and idiosyncratic songwriter that his lyrics often overshadow his innovative guitar playing, which involves a two- instead of three-finger picking style.
Kurt Vile's dazzled and disoriented songwriting usually leans heavily into slacker guitar rock influences, but the acoustic instrumentation and hints of twang that sometimes surface suggest there might be some latent country-folk inspirations deep in the mixture. The five-song EP Speed, Sound, Lonely KV brings Vile's country leanings into the spotlight, centering the short collection around a duet he recorded with his tour mate and songwriting hero John Prine a few months before his death in 2020. The song, a cover of Prine's 1979 tune "How Lucky," is jaunty and bright, Vile's voice sounding relatively light when it joins in with Prine's weathered rasp.