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June Carter Cash

Keep On the Sunny Side: Her Life in Music – 2005 (Sony Legacy)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by June Carter Cash

June Carter Cash may well have developed into a much more popular female vocalist, had she not first hitched her boxcar to the legendary Johnny Cash train. This healthy two-CD set captures many of her best 'BC' and 'AC' recorded moments - Before Cash and After Cash, that is.

This set's first disc goes way back. For instance, it includes June as a little girl singing "Oh! Susannah," which comes out cutely as "Oh Suzy-Anna." Among these pre-Cash moments, one also finds collaborations with Homer & Jethro, as well as this younger girl harmonizing with her siblings in the Carter Sisters.

Disc two picks up in the late '60s with a couple of significant Johnny Cash/June Carter Cash duets on "Jackson" and "If I Were A Carpenter." Rather than having two voices that melded together sweetly, John and June sparred with each other by applying two distinctly contrasting vocal styles. While John bellowed, June growled - especially on "Jackson." More revealing, however, are a few of June's non-duet tracks, which include "The Shadow of a Lady," and "Appalachian Pride." These performances reveal how June was gifted at storytelling, just like John.

June Carter Cash will always be remembered for her role as Johnny Cash's romantic sidekick. But this collection shows how special she truly was - with or without big John.