Dressed In Black: A Tribute to Johnny Cash (Dualtone)
Cash celebrated his 70th birthday earlier this year and some friends and admirers in the world of music got together to offer up their gifts — personal recordings of Cash tunes. Original takes on traditional numbers come in the form of Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison doing “Pack Up Your Sorrows,” Raul Malo’s smooth rendition of “I Guess Things Happen That Way,” Rodney Crowell (Cash’s son-in-law) on “Ballad of a Teenage Queen,” and Hank Williams III’s driving opener the “Wreck of the Old ’97.” In all, 20 artists perform, and every song is a heartfelt tribute mixed in analog to sound more authentic, just as the man in black would want it.
Lost in Space (SuperEgo Records)
Mann’s track record includes selling millions of albums with her ’80s band ’Til Tuesday and an Oscar nomination for her Magnolia soundtrack single “Save Me.” Her strong, yet soft voice has incredible range, and mixed with swirling and acoustic guitars (a great example is found on “This Is How It Goes”), Space is a stellar achievement.
When the Sun Goes Down (Bluebird)
If you’re into old-school blues and rock-and-roll, then this new series of releases is for you. From the vaults of the RCA Victor and Bluebird labels comes a notable collection of four CDs and 100 songs that includes influential classics such as “Statesboro Blues” by Blind Willie McTell, “Frankie and Johnny” by Frank Crumit, and “Catfish Blues” by Robert Petway. — J.E.M.