Blue Note Records (label)
04 February 2014 (released)
09 February 2014
It’s been four years since Rosanne Cash’s last album and while it is a cliché to say so, it’s been worth the wait. This one of the most complete and rounded albums that anyone is going to produce or hear all year. It was written by Rosanne Cash with her husband and co-writer John Leventhal, who also plays guitar, arranges and produces.
From the opener A Feather’s Not a Bird to closer Money Road, it’s an album of different tones, and hues, yet none of the tracks sound out of place. It flows beautifully carried by Ms Cash’s captivating voice, her husband’s sometimes inspired guitar work, and fair few guests.
It’s definitely an album with the American South at its heart though as the laidback blues of A Feather’s Not a Bird indicates, there’s a lot that can be done within the genre. Take Modern Blue’s swagger, which is right out of the Petty book of song. The Long Way Home’s delicate use of strings, sounds and space creates a darkly Lynchian oddity. Night School’s moody orchestral arrangements and sparseness, brought to mind Sinatra’s In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning. Then there’s the slightly off-kilter closer Money Road.
Of the more ‘traditional Country’ tracks, there’s nary a fault. One can hear the toiling worker on ambulating and touching The Sunken Lands, and on World of Strange Design the formula is familiar, tried and tested but sounds refreshed and current. The only real let-down is When The Master Calls The Roll, which just is a little too long.
With most of the tracks clocking in at around 3 -4 minutes there’s not a lot of room for self-indulgence and that is borne out by the performances which are on the nose every time. The album also has a very contemporary feel about it, which is down to a production that’s sympathetic to the performers. It’s an album that’ll keep on giving no matter how many times you return to it.