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June Carter Cash

Wildwood Flower – 2003 (Dualtone)

Reviewed by Tom Netherland

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CDs by June Carter Cash

Country music lost a giant when June Carter Cash died in May at 73. She was Mother Maybelle Carter's last living child, Johnny Cash's wife of 35 years and a country queen who gladly long lived in her husband's considerable shadow.Carter Cash reemerged in grand fashion four years ago with "Press On." This new music was recorded at the Carter Family estate in Maces Spring, Va., the Cash Cabin Studio and in Johnny and June's bedroom. The album oozes hominess.Carter Cash's final album was indeed a family affair. All but 1 of the 13 songs, her spunky duet with Johnny on "Temptation," dates to one phase or another of the Carter Family's recordings. She summons A.P. Carter's "Keep on the Sunny Side" with backing vocals from Johnny, daughter Carlene Carter and former son-in-law Marty Stuart on guitar. Result? Carter gifts us with a raw-boned and beautiful glimpse into her Southwest Virginian roots.

Such sounds run throughout. Nancy Blake's cello provides graceful accompaniment on "Storms on the Ocean," as Carter Cash's voice strikes as strong and vulnerable alike. Yet her famously fantastic humor thankfully emerges in spots. There's the priceless spoken word interlude about meeting actor Lee Marvin that precedes "Big Yellow Peaches," a song she wrote for him.

Appropriately, this caps this Carter Cash classic. Long may the Carter Family sound and name live. Long may we never forget its brightly colored flower of the flock, June Carter Cash.