Rosanne Cash – She Remembers Everything (Capitol)
Rosanne Cash wrote one of my favourite music memoirs, Composed, so naturally “she remembers everything.” Cash is 63, and keeps getting better with age—which says a lot, when one considers her large body of work up to this point.
Everything about She Remembers Everything is enriched by Cash’s vintage: the emotional depth of her vocal delivery (check the a cappella opening of the Irish folk song “The Parting Glass”), the increasing role of atmospherics in her music—the production here, shared by Joe Henry, Tucker Martine, and John Leventhal, draws her closer to torch singer territory than modern Americana folk songs—and the lived experience of her lyrics, which are rich with wisdom and the challenges of long-term relationships. “Every Day Feels Like a New Goodbye” is an ode to a grown-up daughter; “Not Many Miles to Go” is an affectionate ode to her husband, guitarist and co-producer Leventhal. The other subjects are less obvious but no less affecting.
More directly, Cash has been an outspoken advocate of gun control, especially in the numb-inducing recent years, and particularly after the massacre at an outdoor Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas in 2017. It’s a subject she explores in “8 Gods of Harlem,” about a shooting closer to her New York home, and in which she enlists Kris Kristofferson and Elvis Costello to write and sing a verse each with her. For someone who speaks so eloquently on the subject, the song doesn’t live up to her own standards—which are admittedly high. Cash scores a much more direct hit with the post-#MeToo title track, co-written and performed with Sam Phillips: “Who knows who she used to be before it all went dark / Was she like a streak of fire, a painted glass, a beating heart? / All the mirrors, all the smoke, she'll read a thousand times / Versions of the third degree; yours and hers and mine.”
Cash is a class act, always has been. As her 14th album attests, she always will be. (Nov. 16)
Stream: “The Undiscovered Country,” “Not Many Miles to Go,” “The Parting Glass”