Title - 'Personal File' (Columbia/Legacy)
Artist - Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash is without a doubt one of the most distinct voices in music history. Although his medium is country music, the man transcends it. Cash has throughout the years appealed to a wide audience. In the sixties he appealed to the protest nation, in the seventies he was a darling to the Punk scene; by the start of the nineties the alternative audiences embraced him when he started working with Rick Rubin for the American Recordings. On these sessions Cash was recorded naked, just the man and his guitar. Cash hadn't sound so fresh since the late sixties. Creatively his career seemed to have gone down hill during the second half of the seventies and the eighties. The release of the Personal Files show us that Cash's muse was never missing during that period of time. The music on Personal Files are all culled from the period his career seemed slacking. Sonically they resemble the first release of his American Recordings; yet as the title promises these recordings have a far more intimate feel. Throughout these two discs you get the idea you're privy to a living room concert for your ears only. The fact that some songs have a spoken intro heighten this experience. Some of the material here is very familiar and found its way to the studio eventually, other songs are brand new to our ears, others still have been a part of the American songbook for generations. Here we get just Cash and his guitar, though bare, never boring. Cash has a hypnotizing quality that leaves you hanging on his lips, not missing a word. Like no other artist his material covers al aspects of life yet the most dominant themes are always guilt and redemption with Cash. His main strength is he capability to remind of our own humanity. We all falter, we all fail from time to time, yet most of us manage to pick ourselves up every time round and atone for out faults (or sins) in our own way. Cash confronts us with this constant duality in our lives, our desire to better ourselves despite the fact we're destined to fall at times. If you don't get Cash, you've got a hole in your soul.