Sunday, March 7, 2010

Johnny Cash American VI: Ain't No Grave

The "new" Johnny Cash album, made up of sessions he recorded with producer Rick Rubin in the months leading up to his death 2003, is a thirty-two minute communion with the dead. These songs from the great beyond bring good and ill tidings. While nothing here ascends to the heights of the stomping "God's Gonna Cut You Down" from his last posthumous album, neither is there anything as painfully unnecessary as that album's cover of Rod McKuen's "Love's Been Good To Me". Like that last album, many of these songs, both in their performance and in our hearing of them, gain a poignancy by their proximity to death. The sepulchral "Aint No Grave" is the one of the latter-day Cash's finest moments and even the shop-worn "For The Good Times" gains an some urgency in this reading. The collection is a fine addition to The Man in Black's enormous catalog but knowing the wealth of material recorded before his death, listeners can be assured that the Rubin has by no means emptied the vault of Cash

MRML's 23 risky covers by Johnny Cash, is just over yonder.

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