Writing for Allmusic, critic Jim Smith wrote of the album "Unfortunately, the cloying production overpowers the lyrics and relegates them to an almost cursory notion, and it doesn't help that Prine hasn't come up with much new material of note. His wit is still sharp, but it no longer shines; consequently, Common Sense has the unfortunate distinction of being the worst of Prine's Atlantic albums." Music critic Robert Christgau wrote "Prine customarily strives for coherence, but this time he has purposely (and painfully) abjured it. He seems to regret this at one point--during a more or less cogent lament for a dead friend — but the decision was obviously unavoidable. It results in the most genuinely miserable album I've heard in years."