Black Music Matters Festival

Rosanne Cash

Black Cadillac – 2006 (Capitol)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

See it on Amazon

Rosanne Cash writes in the liner notes here, "that relationships founded on love do not end when one person leaves the planet." Cash has certainly experienced her share of painful departures of late, what with her mother (Vivian), father (Johnny) and stepmother (June) all passing away between spring 2003 and spring 2005.

Even so, her love for these departed ones is tangible throughout this outstanding CD. Johnny Cash's ghost naturally casts the biggest shadow here. During the title track, for instance, his funeral hearse reminds Rosanne of the cars he liked to drive. (Apparently, this man in black went all black, all the time). If you've seen "Walk The Line," you'll instantly recognize "House On The Lake" as Johnny's Hendersonville home. Furthermore, "The World Unseen" includes the Johnny-inspired line, "From a distance comes the sound of your guitar." Nevertheless, "I Was Watching You" could be about anyone watching over Rosanne from The Great Beyond.

Anger, like love, is part of the grieving process and Cash injects this work with a strong dosage of vitriol, too. "Like Fugitives" points out shortcomings in a few human institutions when she sings: "It's a strange new world we live in/Where the church sends you to hell/And the lawyers get the money/For the lives they divide and sell." Sonically, this is a fairly sparse effort. Ironically, one titled "World Without Sound" probably contains the most instrumentation, including horns. Cash's singing has never been better, as she fills each track with consistent vocal intimacy, which makes "Black Cadillac" into one darkly beautiful ride.