This review covers:
- Seven Year Ache
- King's Record Shop
These three Rosanne Cash reissues from the '80s display a wide range of her skills. Emotionally, they vary widely from the loose, rootsy sounds driving "King's Record Shop" to the nearly suffocating claustrophobia that inhabits "Interiors." But these CD revisits, most of all, offer kindly reminders of a time when Cash was a much more consistent recording artist.
With "Seven Year Ache," Cash built a solid disc around one strikingly memorable single/title cut. Sadly, Cash is not nearly so chart active now. Other highlights include the oddly clever wordplay of "What Kind Of Girl" and the straightforward sentiments of "You Don't Have Very Far To Go." It's not the most distinctive album within this trio, but it's certainly not bad, either.
"Interiors" is just what its title says it is - an inward look. Listening to it, it's not hard to gather that Cash and her then songwriting husband (Rodney Crowell) were having their relationship troubles at the time. In its lyrics, Cash lays it all out on the line. During "On The Inside," for instance, she states: "It all happens on the inside." Then with the flipside of that thought, on "On The Surface" she contrasts: "On the surface/Everything's okay." Furthermore, "What We Really Want" summarizes: "What we really want is love/What we really need is love." Obviously, Cash wasn't out to put her perspectives into flowery language. Instead, this song cycle is all about the truth and nothing but the truth. Although this recorded exercise may have offered a kind of catharsis for Cash, it's also consistently and persistently one long downer ride, which is tough going on the listener after a while.
"King's Record Shop" is the most enjoyable selection from this set. Whether it's John Hiatt's could've-been-from-the-'60s "The Way We Make A Broken Heart" or the easy going shuffle of "Tennessee Flat Top Box," this release holds together like a satisfying mix tape that could have been created after shuffling through platters at your favorite local record shop. Her spunky side (completely hidden on "Interiors") also shows through on "Green, Yellow and Red," which is the kind of hell on wheels song you'd normally expect from one of the boys.
Her father, Johnny Cash, sure cast a large and imposing shadow over Rosanne. But instead of trying to compete with his bigger-than-life image by attempting to create a unique image of her own, Rosanne has let her darkly compelling singing voice and skillful songwriting do all the talking, instead. She also has a wonderful ear for great songs, exemplified by her covers of Merle Haggard, Steve Forbert, Rodney Crowell songs, sprinkled throughout these recordings.
Although born into undeniable country roots, Rosanne Cash is, in fact, much more of a modern singer/songwriter. As a case in point, the tracks on "Interiors" are, by and large, far more confessional and philosophical than your typical country song. Historically, country performers have been more willing to spill what's in their barroom shot glasses, than expose what's inside the depths of their psyches. With both June and John gone, we need Rosanne Cash now more than ever.