American V: A Hundred Highways
Let me just start by saying that this is a beautiful album. I just can’t stop listening to it. I am, like many others, a huge Johnny Cash fan. Have been my whole life. So this CD, recorded just weeks before Cash’s death, is a perfect bookend to a life well lived - a life of love and music - the life of a country music legend.
Rick Rubin once again brought out the best in the icon- a frail, sick Cash, who even in declining health, delivered these songs with a passion and heart that the rest of us can only dream of.
Beginning with a beautiful take on Larry Gatlin’s “Help Me,” Johnny delivers gospel and country with equal grace. The traditional gospel of “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” stands well alongside Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind,” and a simply outstanding take on Neil Young’s hit “Four Strong Winds.” Johnny’s own “Like the 309” and “ I Came To Believe” are both excellent and his covers of Bruce Springsteen’s “Further On Up The Road” and Don Gibson’s “A Legend In My Time” are stellar.
There’s a certain magic around all of Cash’s “American” recordings, and American V stands as a fitting finale, perhaps one of Johnny’s very best records ever.
-Michael Buffalo Smith