Monday, April 2, 2007

Gospel - Joanne Cash

Many people may not know that Johnny Cash has a sister who has 27 recordings, an acclaimed autobiography (My Fears Are Gone) and performs continually in helping to perpetuate the Cash legacy. Gospel by Joanne Cash is an appropriate name for this career-spanning collection of original and gospel songs done in a country music style.

Cash sings like a veteran that is well-suited to this style of music, but the twangy pedal steel sound heard so often makes this less appealing to a broader audience. She could have benefited from the type of production that Rick Rubin gave to Johnny’s last recordings, which transcend country music. Some of the music sounds a little dated, like the heavy synthesizer on “When He Comes.”

On the plus side, there is a charm to these old hymns and gospel songs that simply present fundamental truths. Among the highlights are duets with her brother on “Lower Lights” and “Softly and Tenderly.” “Lower Lights” includes one of two spoken work introductions by Johnny Cash. His voice is a little weak, but it still sounds good on these never before released songs. One of the more outstanding cuts is the Johnny-penned “Meet Me in Heaven,” which was one of the last songs that he and Joanne sung together before the passing of Johnny’s wife, June Carter Cash.

“Glory, Glory” and “Cotton, Popcorn, Peanuts and Jesus” are autobiographical in nature, the first dealing with brother Jack Cash’s death and the second being a reflection on Joanne’s simple life growing up. She also does some rousing versions of “I Was There When It Happened” and “I’ve Got Jesus In My Soul.”

Her motives for this release are certainly praiseworthy. “My main purpose in this music is to win the lost and uplift the downtrodden,” Cash says of Gospel. “I don’t think we have much time left before Christ comes again and I want to be everything I can be for Jesus. I’ve seen so many people try and build their kingdom in music, but I don’t worry about any of that earthly gain. When you let God do it, that’s when the real effectiveness happens.”

Joanne can stand alone, but Johnny’s songwriting and performances add value. Lovers of traditional gospel and country music can’t go wrong with this collection.
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