Mar 31, 2010

Johnny Cash's "American VI: Ain't No Grave" Review

Artist: Johnny Cash
Album: American VI: Ain't No Grave
Release Date: February 23, 2010
Tracks: 10
Runtime: 32:21

Track Breakdown:
(All ratings out of 5 *’s)

1) "Ain't No Grave" - Eerie, chilling, and so hardcore. It's a strong mix between bluesy country we love from Johnny Cash and a melodic rock theme about spitting in the eye of death. 5*'s.

2) "Redemption Day" - It's hard to be critical of this album since Johnny Cash had one foot in the dirt bed when working on it, but this track doesn't have much umph to it. The lyrics are great and he performs it well, but it sounds like a dragged out, slow-mo Tom Petty delivery. But I do like Tom Petty. So 3 1/4 *'s.

3) "For The Good Times" - This song I really dig because while Ain't No Grave is Cash's defiance to the reaper, this song is a goodbye to all of his fans. It's your grand-daddy lying on his death bed and telling you it's okay because he's going to a better place and you're going to have a great life like you ought to. 5 *'s.

4) "I Corinthians 15:55" - I'm sure there will be plenty of people who like this track, and it's because of this format I have to review albums. If you're about to buy the farm or know someone who is, this will probably be a great song to them. It's classy, it's graceful, and it's spiritual. But I'm today's youth and don't dig Gospel or retirement home soundtracks, so I can only give this track 2 *'s.

5) "Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound" - This song makes me wish Spaghetti Westerns and Clint Eastwood playing "The Man With No Name" was still the in-thing in Hollywood. It's so dirty a-moral cowboy on his mule riding through the harsh desert. It's rough and rugged but at the same time reflective and introspective. It's sweet and yet it's strong. 5 *'s.

6) "Satisfied Mind" - Five or ten or even fifteen years ago, this song would have been a hit. The lyrics are great, the story and message are powerful and relatable, but, and I hate to criticize this of a dying man, Cash just sounds so tired and exhausted on this track. The only people I can see really enjoying this track are mega-country music lovers. If you're not, then this track doesn't translate to you. 2 *'s.

7) "I Don't Hurt Anymore" - Much like the track "For The Good Times" this is something of a goodbye to the world song. Unfortunately it's not nearly as powerful in lyrics or vocal delivery. It sounds like Cash is even more painfully tired in this track than in the previous. 1*. Sorry Johnny, I still love you!

8) "Cool Water" - This song really reminds me of the movie The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly where The Good, Blondie, is being dragged dying and dehydrated through the desert by The Ugly. While it fits well with the movie I don't really relate it to my life, any real scenario or anything else. It's even kind of skippable of a track. A mediocre 2 1/2 *'s.

9) "Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream" - While something of an inspirational message that might make for a decent soundtrack song, not very strong in relation to this album. Really runs short compared to some of the hits I've heard Cash belt out in the eight previous tracks. 2 1/2 *'s.

10) "Aloha Oe" - This one boggles my mind. I'm not from Hawaii and I don't have any plans on going so needless to say this one isn't for me. But I don't get why Johnny Cash wanted to end his album with this or why he wanted to record it at all. Maybe it's got secret "I'm not really dead" or "This is where the treasure's hidden" messages in it. But until proven otherwise, 1*.

My Highlights:
"Ain't No Grave", "For The Good Times", "Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound". All songs about dying, all with different messages, and all awesome.

Overall Rating:
Averaging all of the star scores together this album comes to 2.92 which rounds up to 3 *'s out of 5. Unfortunately, I really don't think it's worth the money to buy this whole album. I reiterate what I said through many of the individual track comments, I do love Johnny Cash, and I do have a hard time criticizing him since he recorded these shortly before his death. The surprise that he could record and produce anything is maybe worthy of 3 *'s out of 5, but on a bigger scale of things, I'm going to have to subtract 1/4 of a * for the delivery and short amount of tracks. Harsh I know. My final score for the album is 2 3/4 *'s out of 5, or 5 1/2 *'s out of 10. Very skippable and not worth purchasing in full. Definitely look into buying the tracks listed in My Highlights, but the album as a whole isn't worth it unless you're a die-hard Cash fan who needs every hit-and-miss album in his discography.

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