It has been said that Johnny Cash is not the most technically correct singer, and while this may be true, this should not be taken as a negative criticism. The vulnerability and emotion conveyed by his voice is one of his strengths as an artist. His voice has an earthy raw appeal which imbues his songs with real beauty and the sound of a life that has been lived, rich in experience of both the good times and the bad.
‘The Man Comes Around’ is the fourth album in the American Recordings series produced by the amazing Rick Rubin. The album contains a blend of Cash originals like ‘The Man Comes Around’, covers of classics like ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and ‘Danny Boy’, and renditions of unexpected songs like Nine Inch Nails ‘Hurt’ and The Beatles ‘In My Life’. The covers have not merely been rehashed, Cash has taken each song and completely made them his own. Musical accompaniment on all tracks is kept to the barest minimum, allowing Cash’s voice to take centre stage.
Singing ‘I Hung My Head’ the emotion in Cash’s voice is palpable and it catches at the heart as he explores shades of pain and regret. At times his voice stands bare without noticeable musical backing and it is at these times that his vocals are at their spine tingling best, creating a story which resonates with the soul. The poignant ‘In My Life’ builds an atmosphere filled with the feelings of sorrow and reflection. With Cash’s voice catching in parts this is a song to clutch at your chest and tear at your heart.
The country echoes of ‘Desperado’ are delivered with a rough and ready vocal which provides the perfect complement to the poetic lyrics. The album’s closing song ‘We’ll Meet Again’ is heartbreakingly beautiful and given sensitive, yet sad treatment by Cash. It is a song which provides a fitting close but makes you wish you didn’t have to say goodbye.
Each song on this album offers listeners an emotional journey which both reflects on the past and looks forward to the future. Dealing with the journeys of life and death Cash has created an album that speaks directly to the core of what it is to be human.
If you’d like to experience this album for yourself, I have one brand spanking new copy up for grabs (wherever you are in the world). All you have to do is leave a comment to this post telling me why this album would make a welcome addition to your CD collection. The winner will be chosen at random and contacted by email. The competition closes midnight 30 December 2006 (AEST).
Thanks to everyone for all your wonderful entries, the competition is now closed and the winner (Anne) has been contacted by email.