Review Summary: Death: The action or fact of dying or being killed; the end of the life of a person or organism.
The first track on Johnny Cash's Ain't No Grave
is a perfect start to this album. Including the sounds of chains and haunting acoustic guitars it proves to be one of the finest songs on the record, if not one of the finest tracks produced during the American recording sessions. It captures the pure scope of the man in black. That scope being that even though he has left this world, Johnny still lives on through the music that he has created over his lifetime. Truly coming to show the power of the new age we live in. Even though a man has died his footprint will long be kept. Not through legend or lore but through physical copies and online recordings. Leaving one to… well… never truly depart.
When I hear that trumpet sound,
I'm going to rise right out of the ground,
There ain't no grave that can hold my body down.
This album without a doubt is home to some of the greatest vocals I have ever heard. Delivered with such passion and force that even though his voice may sound worn out, you can hear the emotion seeping through. In a way this is what a lot of modern music seems to be missing. If I had a dime for every uninspired filler track I have heard, I'd more easily afford gas. This is what Cash somehow excels at avoiding in his records. It's no surprise that this factor is what contributes to the popularity and power behind the American recordings.
Now as the summary sort of hinted at, this album is almost entirely about death. A topic fleetingly sung about in mainstream music now-a-days, and hardly ever the focus of an entire album. (It should also be worth mentioning at this point that Johnny Cash by the time of the release of this album was dead.) In a way it being about death is completely appropriate and if it hadn’t been about the same topic may the whole record may have lost some of its punch.
Musically this is on par with his other albums. Delicious acoustic guitars will leave you wanting more and more. This is also great plus when most of the country music out today blatantly sucks in this department. Despite such a glossy look into the record so far there are some problems. You've heard this all before. It sounds like every other American album. Now that isn't a huge negative, because as always there is some great production behind this. And as always there are some true country gems in here. But the fact is it is just more Johnny Cash. Nothing new or in that case experimental, it's just simply great country music which may come to dismay to some listeners. Despite this there are some points where you hear some recycled guitar chords and patterns. Cool Water
being the most blatant, you will have sworn you have heard this song before with the only difference being the lyrics.
In the end this is great modern country. Whether they are covers or not he manages to make them distinctly his own turning Cash into one of the best cover artists ever known.