Johnny Cash - American V: A Hundred Highways

Published Wednesday 20th September 2006
Johnny Cash - American V: A Hundred Highways
Johnny Cash - American V: A Hundred Highways

STYLE: Country
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 20019-11454
LABEL: American 0602498626962

Reviewed by Tony Cummings

His voice, little more than a husky croak on Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind" conveys so much pathos, pain, hope and sheer, unflinching humanity. But this stunning album goes much deeper. For there's gospel truth permeating this album, recorded shortly before the Man In Black finally went to dwell with the Lover of his soul in September 2003. There's a stark reminder of the impermanence of our span here on earth with the bluesy traditional song "God's Gonna Cut You Down" and an absolutely magnificent self-penned testimony of coming to faith, "I Came To Believe". Throughout Rick Rubin's skeletal, less-is-best production is hauntingly right. Apparently these final recordings were made in fits and starts depending on the great man's day-to-day health. After Cash's death Rubin returned to the tapes to add overdubs from people like guitarist Smokey Hormel and Tom Petty's Heartbreakers, guitarist Mike Campbell and keys player Benmont Tench. There are luminous, deeply moving gems throughout this album. Hank Williams' "On The Evening Train" where the tragic song of personal grief about a recently deceased mother surely brought thoughts to John of the loss of his wife June Carter Cash who died a few months earlier; a jaunty rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "Further On Up The Road" with its jet black tongue-in-cheek humour; Rod McKuen's "Love's Been Good To Me" which can be sentimental schlock in the hand of lesser singers but here is an anthem of romantic thankfulness. And throughout there is a rich dignity that only comes from a man who can sing of loss and pain yet knows that soon he will be in a place where such things are banished for eternity. A stunning farewell album from a true musical giant.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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