Review Summary: An early audible example of American despair.
Johnny Cash's rough, humble beginnings were the foundation for his straightforward but effective approach to songwriting. And when he added his emotional turmoil, drug use, and a deep connection with reality to the mix he really stood out from the crowd. While not necessarily deeply negative in current times, the release of the early Sun singles together on his first album painted a picture of a man who really wasn't satisfied with his life regardless of how he looked at it. It's not as if anyone was really blamed for any of it, but it was accepted that it was just the way life is. There's a lot of country and blues roots here; songs about love, crime, rural living, and prison time fill the duration of the runtime. It's the believability that makes the album a success.
It's astonishing how many people in America (and beyond) are familiar with and like Johnny Cash, especially when his lifestyle and faith are brought to the table. This happened because, no matter how you feel about what he believed in or what he chose to do with his time, he strived to be genuine. He conveyed experience with these dark matters to the listener. And even if his own life didn't follow the stories he told down to the last detail, it didn't matter. It feels like he went through it all. The simplicity of the songs highlight this and allow nearly everyone to chime right in and imagine that they're being put through these tribulations right along with him. The listener feels the oppressive heat of the South and feels right at home when Cash can't seem to get out of his rut.
After all, life is hard. Everyone makes mistakes. Johnny Cash understood we must all face and pay for these mistakes somewhere down the line, or they'll eat us alive. The acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and double bass utilized by Cash and the Tennessee Two create a sound that could be comparable to someone being put on trial. And the lyrics recount the events that took place to land you in the courtroom. Luckily, you're the only one in the room and you get to decide where you're going to go from here. Either way, this album won't judge you for any choices on this long, difficult journey.