Anchored in Love -
A Tribute to June Carter Cash
CD Review by Scott "Dr. Music" Itter




June 2007
Track listing
  If I Were A Carpenter - Sheryl Crow & Willie Nelson
  Jackson -
Carlene Carter &
Ronnie Dunn
  Wildwood Flower - Loretta Lynn
  Far Side Banks of Jordan - Patty Loveless & Kris Kristofferson
  Keep On The Sunny
Side - Brad Paisley
  Wings of Angels - Rosanne Cash
  Ring of Fire - Elvis Costello
  Road To Kaintuck - Billy Bob Thornton & The Peasall Sisters
  Big Yellow Peaches - Grey DeLisle
  Kneeling Drunkard's Plea - Billy Joe Shaver
  Will The Circle Be Unbroken - Ralph Stanley
  Song To John - Emmylou Harris

Label: Dualtone
Release Date:
June 2007

So many tributes so little time, right? I know what you're thinking. Every time you turn around you have some fool coming up with a "tribute" to just about anyone that's ever sung a note. And of course, 9 out of 10 of these tribute releases contain a pack of dogs all barking up the wrong tree. We've had Garth Brooks covering Kiss, David Lee Roth trying to sing bluegrass, and even a string quartet trying to salute AC/DC. Please, make it stop. Well, thanks to John Carter Cash, the 37-year old only son of Johnny and June, we're offered a tribute album that stops the bleeding.

Almost all of the artists involved in this project have some kind of direct link to the great June Carter Cash. Artists like Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris, and Ronnie Dunn were all personal friends of Cash. To hear these legends of Country music pour their hearts into these classic songs creates a perfect focal point for the direction of this disc. All of these artists are in their correct realms of style, and the emotional attachment shines through on so many of these tracks. Songs like "Wildwood Flower," sung by the remarkable Loretta Lynn is a thing of beauty. Grey De Lisle's chilling rendition of "Big Yellow Peaches" is something that churns in your stomach for weeks. Emmylou Harris's poignant attempt at the extremely personal "Song to John" hits the mark beautifully. But this is more than just Country artists doing what they do best. It's an album that finds Elvis Costello right at home performing, arguably, the most famous of all Cash songs, "Ring of Fire." With his inimitable flair and style he makes the song his own. I was scared to death when I saw Costello and "Ring" joined together on the track listing. I just had trouble believing that Costello would sound "believable," but obviously John Carter Cash has an ear for this kind of thing. You see, John Carter Cash personally matched each singer with a particular song, and may I say that he did quite an amazing job too. But even with his impressive coordination of singer and song, perhaps the most impressive thing about this collection is the production, which was also handled by Cash himself. While you might expect him to achieve a sharp modern punch with songs from Brad Paisley ("Keep On The Sunny Side") and Sheryl Crow (duet w/Willie Nelson on "If I Were A Carpenter"), you might not expect it with an artist like Kris Kristofferson (duet w/Patty Loveless on "Far Side Banks Of Jordan") who has throat lined with gravel - but Cash's production here is flawless. Kristofferson does his best to sound like a Bassett hound named Cletus on the front porch of a 1950's Kentucky backwoods shack, but Cash brings him right into 2007 without losing the "antique" tonal effect of his classic voice. Some of the best tracks of this collection - Carlene Carter and Ronnie Dunn's "Jackson," Brad Paisley's "Keep On The Sunny Side," and "Wings Of Angels" sung by Roseanne Cash - are successful due in great part to John Carter Cash's production efforts.

You might think of this as something of a soundtrack to June Carter Cash's life and times, and that would be a very accurate account. So, to accompany this CD release, John Carter Cash will also release his book, "Anchored In Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash." The book will cover JCC's entire life, but will especially focus on John's personal relationship with his mother. As he says, "A whole chapter might be devoted to a one-week or two-week period as a way of displaying her character, either comically, seriously or sadly." Writing the book and making the record as a way of aiding the grieving process, Cash admits "It was a path to peace in many ways." Well, let me tell you John, I know the record is a "path to peace" for many of us that have been waiting for a tribute album worth listening to. Thanks.

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