History: Many of the songs on the album are covers from bands like Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Vera Lynn, and The Beatles. It seems like Johnny Cash took bands you would expect him to cover the least and he decided he would cover them. Johnny Cash would have this album nominated and winner of many awards including at the MTV VMA's, and at the Grammy's.
Vocals: The thing that is so appealing about Cash's vocals are that they are so simple yet they have a lot of emotion and power to them. It seems with age their ability to make an impact while listening has just deepened because each song seems to hit heavy. "Hurt" though seems to have cast this depressing idea around the album though there are plenty of lighter songs that shed light on a brighter outlook. Johnny Cash is one of the few and maybe only 71 year old's I know to get himself nominated at the VMA's.
Instrumentals: Cash enlisted some very top notch musical talent to put together the accompaniments on the album as well. While there were many vocal talents to come in to back like Fiona Apple and Nick Cave, he also brought on Red Hot Chili Pepper guitarist, John Frusciante to play on "Personal Jesus." It is a wide array of talent that seems more selectively picked for the album. Not every songs runs as interesting as the next. The album gets off to a way stronger start than the mid-section when it hits.
Recording: This sort of music just seems timeless to me. This branch of country is one that can be slightly modernized, but there is something about the tunes and the way they sound that resonates long after. The album is now 11 years old, but it sounds as relevant and recently released as it was when it first appeared in stores. Also, I think Johnny Cash's voice is one that many like. It's soothing, but it also this really masculine quality that isn't forcing, plus you feel everything he is singing in the songs.
The previous American albums I hadn't heard of, and I didn't even know this album was apart of a series. It's creative though and it shows how Cash had grown as an artist over time. He still was wrapped up in the craft even years later after the time in 60's where it seems some of his most popular work is. To this day you still hear the tunes played pretty consistently on television.
Rating 8 of 10.