Bottom line: The distortion I was experiencing disappeared after I turned on Sound Enhancer in iTunes (set half-way) and Sound Check both in iTunes and on my iPod. Suddenly John Prine’s “Fair & Square” sounded as clear as if he were sitting in my living room.
Nice album, too, by the way — not quite as creative as “The Missing Years” (1991), but a big improvement over his last album of originals, “Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings” (1995). “Fair & Square” sounds very familiar, but in a good way. Unobtrusive production, too, unlike “Lost Dogs.”