Rosanne Cash: The River & the Thread

rosanne cashRosanne Cash
The River & the Thread
(Blue Note Records)

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Slinky slide and a thrumming back beat informs “A Feather’s Not a Bird,” the opening track on Rosanne Cash’s new The River & the Thread record, her first in over four years. From the start here, it’s obvious the Man In Black’s daughter is in fine voice, and equally as strong in her songwriting. Both are darker on the second tune, “The Sunken Lands,” heavy on snare and bass as it is with a great mandolin lead.

I like the full pop country/rock of “Modern Blue” with its swaggering acoustic and the full great commercial chorus and perfect lead played by Cash’s collaborator/producer/guitarist…and hubby, John Leventhal. Later on “50,000 Watts” presents a less rock-ier, but certainly as poppy read.

“Tell Heaven” is a tight, delicate tune with acoustics up front (as well as Cash’s truly perfect voice). You can get all comfy as R.C. tells you the story of “The Long Way Home” with its sweeping strings and again Leventhal providing perfectly placed plucked color. “Night School” sees some tricky plucked blues acoustic countering a wonderful Rosanna Cash breathy vocal. At any time the tune could break apart, but Cash keeps it all together through the low noises behind her, the image swirl of the lyrics and a heartbreaking violin lead. It’s the best tune here.

Kris Kristofferson, Tony Joe White, and Rodney Crowell are the choir on “When the Master Calls the Roll,” another truly solid commercial offering, this time in a gospel vein. The bluesy “Money Road” ends this wonderful collection of 11.

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