BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
How the hell is it possible for an artist like Rosanne Cash to continually top herself? That’s a question that’s been well worth pondering throughout Cash’s career, and while having a certain familial DNA may have a lot to do with it, there’s clearly more to it than that. Boasting a steady collaborator like producer/guitarist/songwriting partner John Leventhal may help provide explanation as well, but inevitably it would be unfair not to credit Cash herself with the grit and resolve needed to command such consistently compelling efforts.
Indeed, when Cash and Leventhal previewed The River & The Thread live at last September’s Americana Music Festival, it was pretty obvious to all present that they had come up with another masterpiece. Happily then, hearing it ring through home speakers provides confirmation that this, like all Cash’s previous efforts at one time, deserves contention as her best yet. Cash strikes a gritty, resolute, no-compromise stance throughout, be it the cocksure posture of “Modern Blue” and “A Feather’s Not a Bird,” but she also maintains a hint of seduction as well, a confident croon that makes such songs as “Etta’s Tune,” “50,000 Watts,” “When the Master Calls the Roll” and “Tell Heaven” sound both soothing and somehow foreboding all at the same time.
It’s that hint of mystery and subtle uncertainty that shrouds the album overall and ensures the ongoing intrigue that’s proven Cash’s signature trait throughout this phase of her career. As the title suggests, The River & The Thread manages to surge and sway all at the same time. Indeed, it doesn’t get much better than this.
DOWNLOAD: “50,000 Watts, “Etta’s Tune,” “Modern Blue”