Awhile back a generous reader purchased Cash's last CD, The Man Comes Around, for me from my wishlist. This person requested that I write a review of it, so somewhat belatedly I'm obliging.
Let my preface this by saying I wouldn't classify myself as a Johnny Cash fan. I have only a general familiarity with his work, and have only recently become more of a fan of the broad "folk/country singer-songwriter genre."
I find that the CD is oddly less than the sum of its parts. That isn't actually meant to be a harsh assessment - it's more that Cash's songs tend to, in isolation, have a surprising power which is diluted when they're strung together. I prefer to listen to a couple of songs and move on, instead of listening to the whole CD at once.
Cash's cover of Nine Inch Nails's "Hurt" alone is worth the 13 bucks. Not since L.L. Cool J's performance of "Mama Said Knock You Out" on MTV's Unplugged has the quality of a song been so revealed by its acoustic deconstruction. I can do without the cover of "Desperado," but otherwise this is a great CD, even if it's best taken in small doses.
Here ends my career is a rock critic.