When marquee names are assembled to memorialize a musical icon, it can be a task fraught with peril. John Carter Cash, the only son of both June and Johnny Cash, came up with the idea of this "tribute" album to his mother and was responsible for pairing the artists and the material, and the results are mixed.
The pinnacle is Elvis Costello's "Ring of Fire. He takes the synergies of composition and melody and forges a gem. Other standouts are the venerable Ralph Stanley's feisty take on "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and Brad Paisley's "Keep on the Sunny Side," both written by June's uncle, the inestimable A. P. Carter.
Other notable tracks are Billy Joe Shaver's crusty treatment of "Kneeling Drunkard Plea" and the duo of Carlene Carter and Ronnie Dunn who produce a dynamite performance with "Jackson" which rivals the 1967 hit by June and Johnny.
Honorable mentions go to Loretta Lynn for "Wildwood Flower" and actor Billy Bob Thornton and the Peasall Sisters for their teamwork on the surprisingly good "Road to Kaintuck." Unfortunately, the remaining performances lack the emotional resonance of which folks such as Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson et al are capable.