Johnny Cash is an American Icon. In the early part of his career around 1954 made more rock friendly records. In the later part of his career he made a transition to folk or blues music. His latest album “American VI: Aint No Grave” is very much blues influenced. This album was released February 23rd of this year posthumously after Cash’s death in 2003. Much of the album is Cash singing covers but he breathes new life into the songs.
The album starts with classic Johnny Cash. His hurt voice is perfectly matched with the acoustic guitar banjo and a simple rhythmic beating. The song has very poignant and haunting lyrics about meeting his parents and meeting Jesus after his death. The chorus of the song “Aint no grave can hold my body down” I find to be very strong and uplifting even though it is about death. This song has a creepy yet inspirational vibe that I really liked immediately.
The next track is very interesting choice seeing as it was originally a Sheryl Crow song, Redemption Day. It fits Cash’s style so perfectly. I can’t help but love his voice you can feel the anguish it’s so raw and emotional. I particularly love its gruffness. I think a lot of modern singers focus on keeping their delivery clean but with Cash you can really feel it. The song ends with Johnny repeating the word freedom and you can tell it means so much to him.
The third and final track I’m going to specifically mention is For The Good Times; a song about love being over but life going on and just remembering the good times. Again I can’t help but point out Cash’s true mastery of emotions. I think it’s a very special gift to be able to make people feel what you’re singing. The song makes amazing visuals, which make you feel like you retreat into your own mind and replay the scenes over and over. Then while your imagining the scenes Cash will sing something so gut wrenching like “make believe you love me one more time” and “there’ll be time enough for sadness when you leave me lay your head upon my pillow.”
Overall I really enjoyed this album very much. It’s a simple clean album and the production is refreshingly raw. It harkens back to days of old when songs and albums actually made emotional connections with its listeners. Listening to this album feels like going on a journey with Cash; I think that’s a really cool feeling for an album to produce with individuals. The great thing about discovering a love for this album is Cash has so much material you can go back and listen too. The overall tone of this album is of sorrow and redemption. On a rainy day very much like the day I listened to it, it’s a wonderful listen. I’ve heard Johnny Cash songs before but I never took the time to listen to an album and in doing this review I’ve become a really big fan.