A Tribute to June Carter Cash
# Original Release Date : June 5, 2007
# Number of Discs: 1
# Label: Dualtone (Red) Nashville, TN
1. If I Were a Carpenter - Crow, Sheryl / Nelson, Willie
2. Jackson - Carter, Carlene / Dunn, Ronnie
3. Wildwood Flower - Lynn, Loretta
4. Far Side Banks of Jordan - Kristofferson, Kris / Loveless, Patty
5. Keep on the Sunny Side - Paisley, Brad
6. Wings of Angels - Cash, Rosanne
7. Ring of Fire - Costello, Elvis
8. Road to Kaintuck - Peasall Sisters / Thornton, Billy Bob
9. Big Yellow Peaches - DeLisle, Grey
10. Kneeling Drunkard's Plea - Shaver, Billy Joe
11. Will the Circle Be Unbroken - Stanley, Ralph
12. Song to John - Harris, Emmylou
thecelebritycafe.com - Review by
Sari N. Kent
- Almost four years after her passing, the various artists portrayed on Anchored in Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash depict Cash’s downhome charm and extort both somber and upbeat emotions that encapsulate the soul of a musical legend.
Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson perform a duet of “If I Were a Carpenter,” which had been sung previously by Johnny Cash, and was singer Bobby Darin’s final hit record on the Atlantic Records label. The guitar work is slow yet jovial, with harmonica play mixed in for good measure. Nelson begins with, “If I were a carpenter, and you were a lady, would you marry me anyway? Would you have my baby?” Crow responds in kind with, “If you were a carpenter, and I were a lady, I’d marry you anyway. I’d have your baby...Followin’ behind you.” Then the two merge their sounds harmoniously with, “Save my love for loneliness, save my love for sorrow.” One could picture this song as one that describes the love that June Carter Cash and Johnny shared.
On “Jackson,” the vibe is more danceable and one that listeners can get down and boogie to. Carlene Carter, June Carter’s daughter from her first marriage to Carl Smith, teams up with Ronnie Dunn, who is one half of country music power duo, Brooks & Dunn. Together they bring a southern twang to this song that talks about a couple’s travels, with lines like, “Yeah we got married in a fever…We been talkin' 'bout Jackson ever since the fire went out. I’m goin’ to Jackson, I’m gonna mess around, Yeah I’m goin’ to Jackson. Look out Jackson town.” There is sprightly guitar and drum work on the track and what could be a synthesizer, which changes the flow of the guitar for a varied sound to the instrument. It seems these two are going to paint that town red and listeners are along for the ride as they detail their exploits.
“Far Banks of Jordan” has a serious rhythm to it as Patty Loveless and Kris Kristofferson muse on parting from this world and how each will wait for the other in the hereafter, as Kristofferson begins with lines such as, “I believe my steps are growin’ wearier each day. I got another journey on my mind. Wars of this old world have ceased to make me want to stay. My one regret is leavin’ you behind.” Loveless then answers his unhappiness with, “But if it proves to be His will that I am first to cross. Somehow I’m feelin’ it will be. And when it comes your time to travel likewise don’t feel lost. I will be the first one that you’ll see.” Then, they combine their message of love everlasting as they croon lines like, “And I’ll be waiting on the far side banks of Jordan. I'll be sitting drawing pictures in the sand. And when I see you comin’ I will rise up with a shout and come runnin’ through the shallow waters reaching for your hand.” This song is one that could be played at a wedding as the newlyweds dance and pledge that their commitment will be eternal in life and even after death.
Anchored in Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash has renderings of undying love and how it can overcome any obstacle. Each artist gives their all, and all the songs are fitting tributes to the musical icon.
Reviewer's Rating: 9
Reno-Gazette Journal - Review by Merrie Leininger
3 ½ stars (out of 4)
From the embroidered CD cover to Brad Paisley's cover of "Keep on the Sunny Side," this tribute album embodies hand-crafted love for the queen of old-timey, down-home music.
Although not all written by June Carter Cash, in the liner notes, her son John Carter Cash defends their inclusion, saying "Surely no one sang 'Wildwood Flower' or 'Will the Circle be Unbroken' more often within a lifetime than my mother. She made these as much a part of her as one penned by her own hand ... with all due respect to the writers."
The record opens with "If I Were a Carpenter," a sweet duet with Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson and leads into the only thing that comes close to a rocker, "Jackson" by Carlene Carter (June's daughter with Carl Smith) and Ronnie Dunn (of Brooks and Dunn). Other highlights include "Wildwood Flower" by Loretta Lynn and "Big Yellow Peaches" by a whispery Grey DeLisle (musician, voice actor and the wife of Murry Hammon, the bassist for the Old 97's). It's just plain disturbing to hear Elvis Costello's voice singing "Ring of Fire," since it will always be a Johnny Cash song. Another miscasting was putting Billy Bob Thornton in charge of the talky parts of "Road to Kaintuck," although I shook it off because the banjo and the Peasall Sisters' harmonies won me over.
- Recommended if you like: traditional gospel or bluegrass tunes; Patsy Cline; The Carter Family
Orlando Sentinel - Jim Abbott
There's a heartfelt simplicity at the center of the Carter Family's musical legacy, a trait that's reflected nicely in this all-star salute to June Carter Cash.
In a dozen songs, Anchored In Love updates the singer's rural country sound only gently, and that's a good thing. Many of the musicians in this all-star lineup are obvious choices: Kris Kristofferson, Loretta Lynn, Ralph Stanley, Rosanne Cash.
Others, such as Sheryl Crow and Elvis Costello, possess an affinity for the tunes, even if they come from outside the country realm.
Crow, who already went country on her hit duet with Kid Rock, mixes seamlessly with Willie Nelson on the opening "If I Were a Carpenter." Beneath the voices, the song bounces along energetically on a foundation of mandolin, guitars and harmonica.
While that song is done traditionally, Ronnie Dunn and Carlene Carter (June's daughter) pump new life into a sassy "Jackson."
Dunn, who specializes in somewhat generic radio-friendly country with partner Kix Brooks, really shines on tribute albums. His version of "If I Could Only Win Your Love," with Rebecca Lynn Howard, is a highlight of the 2003 Louvin Brothers tribute, Livin', Lovin', Losin'.
That song, with its electric and steel guitars, is about as slick as Anchored in Love aspires to be. Other highlights include earthy acoustic offerings from Brad Paisley ("Keep on the Sunny Side"), Billy Bob Thornton and Peasall Sisters ("Road to Kaintuck"), Kristofferson and Patty Loveless ("Far Side Banks of Jordan") and Billy Joe Shaver ("Kneeling Drunkard's Plea").
Better than any of that is either Loretta Lynn's homespun take on "Wildwood Flower," complete with shimmering autoharp, or Ralph Stanley's rustic "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."
There also is a pair of evocative reinventions: Elvis Costello's intense "Ring of Fire," and a sweetly delicate folk interpretation of "Song to John" by Emmylou Harris. The latter is a graceful, loving benediction for an album that also fits that description.
Timeout.com - James Porter
June Carter Cash is known primarily as a member of the Carter Family (and subsequently as Johnny Cash’s partner, both in duets and in life). She was not gifted with the best singing voice, but like her husband, knew how to make it work. This tribute album was produced by her son John Carter Cash, who also just released a companion book of memoirs.
It’s not a common strategy to put the most high-energy tracks first, but that’s what was done here. True, “If I Were a Carpenter” (the leadoff track by Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson) isn’t exactly fast, but it packs an intensity lacking in the rest of the album, starting right from the giddyup when Nelson offhandedly sings the first verse (behind the beat, as usual). Then Carlene Carter (June’s daughter) kicks up the energy level, trading barbs on “Jackson” with Ronnie Dunn the same way her mother did with her stepdad, Johnny Cash. It doesn’t exactly go downhill from there, but “Carpenter” and “Jackson” are a hell of an act to follow. Introspective cuts like Grey DeLisle’s “Big Yellow Peaches” just don’t sound right when two slam-bang openers set the pace.
The sequencing and variety could be better, yet there are some good performances that pay earnest homage to Lady Cash. “Keep on the Sunny Side” (Brad Paisley) and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” (Ralph Stanley) are two standards that have been covered once too often, but the versions here still have some drive. And there’s an interesting beauty-and-the-beast duet between Patty Loveless and Kris Kristofferson, while Emmylou Harris intones the highly personal “Song to John” with proper respect.
Allmusicguide.com - Jeff Tamarkin
Because she rarely recorded under her own name, a tribute to the late June Carter Cash by default also stands as a tribute to her genealogy: several of the songs among the dozen here were recorded by June with her late husband, Johnny Cash, or by country music's legendary Carter Family, from which June sprang. In addition, the album was produced by John Carter Cash, the only child of Johnny and June, and there are tracks by Carlene Carter, June's daughter from her first marriage (to Carl Smith), and Rosanne Cash, Johnny Cash's daughter with his first wife.
As producer, John Carter Cash largely plays it predictable. There are few surprises and no truly offbeat rearrangements or radical interpretations. Folks who enjoyed the singing of June Carter Cash will likely be quite satisfied with these loving, faithful covers. And they should be, because virtually all of the performances are flawless, honest, and inspired. Two duets lead things off: Sheryl Crow and duet king Willie Nelson give a spirited, if somewhat rote, reading to "If I Were a Carpenter," the Tim Hardin-penned classic, and Carlene Carter and Ronnie Dunn hoot it up on "Jackson," the Nancy Sinatra-Lee Hazlewood hit -- both songs were longtime staples of Johnny and June's shows together. A handful of top-shelf country artists, among them Loretta Lynn (a tender "Wildwood Flower"), Brad Paisley (a straightforward, beautifully sung "Keep on the Sunny Side"), and bluegrass hero Ralph Stanley ("Will the Circle Be Unbroken," what else?), pay their respects with kind treatments, and Emmylou Harris, who certainly learned a thing of two from June, sends it off in style with "Song to John," June's self-explanatory tribute of her own.
It wouldn't be a tribute album if Elvis Costello didn't turn up, and though his "Ring of Fire" will never go down as the definitive version of that Johnny Cash signature, Costello brings his usual commitment -- and an autoharp, June's favorite instrument -- to his no-frills version. Two of the more left-field approaches come via Patty Loveless and Kris Kristofferson, who bring a touch of drollness to "Far Side Banks of Jordan," and Billy Joe Shaver, who's exactly the right guy to give a bit of bite to the Carter Family's "Kneeling Drunkard's Plea." You've got to think that both June and Johnny would have loved this homage, whose release coincides with the publication of John Carter Cash's same-titled biography of his mother.
Blogcritics.com - Simon Barrett
I really do not know where to start with this CD. It is an absolutely must have for anyone that loves the songs June Carter Cash penned and sung over her long career. The cast of performers is as compendious as the list of musicians that have played at the Grand Ole Opry. And the performances are all flawless and enthralling.
Anchored In Love is set for a June 19th launch, which will coincide with the release of a book about June Carter Cash authored by her son John (and yes I have it on order)! I feel really lucky to have bragging rights of having this pre-release CD in my possession. I also learned a great deal about this wonderful songwriter. I did not know that many famous songs such as "Burning Ring Of Fire" or "Keep On The Sunny Side" came from this lady's pen.
Opening with "If I Were a Carpenter" Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson get the party started with a very up tempo version of this classic song. This is followed up by "Jackson" performed by Carlene Carter (daughter) and Lonnie Dunn, again a great rendition of this song. And what would an album like this be without Loretta Lynn, and so for our listening pleasure she does "Wildwood Flower." Everyone contributes something unique to these timeless songs.
One of my favorite movies of all time is the Coen brothers O Brother Where Art Thou, and I love the music in it. I was very surprised to find two links from Anchored in Love to it. In the movie "Keep On The Sunny Side Of Life" is used in a particularly funny scene. Brad Paisley does an admirable job of keeping on the sunny side of life! The second reference is that the Peasall Sisters (The trio of small sisters singing at the political convention in O Brother) their performance made such an impression on John Carter Cash that he invited them to join Billy Bob Thornton in singing "The Road To Kaintuck." The sisters have grown up a little since O Brother, but their voices are superb.
I am pretty sure that Elvis Costello has never played the Grand Ole Opry, but he does sing a very fine version of "Ring Of Fire," a song that most people associate with Johnny Cash, yet it was June that actually wrote it. According to the sleeve notes Elvis Costello was a close friend of the family, and so it is very fitting that he has a place on this CD.
Space prevents me from continuing with this review! I could write a whole book, and then, likely write another one! With the wide variety of well know performers and even wider musical styles this is must listen to music. I have missed talking about Patty Loveless, Kris Kristofferson, Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, and a whole lot of other performers, all of who make great contributions.
John Carter Cash has done an outstanding job of celebrating the music that his mother created.
Popmatters.com - Aarik Danielsen
The album begins with fresh adaptations of two of Johnny and June’s signature duets, underscoring the importance of their artistic collaboration on both their professional and personal lives. Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow open with an earthy take on “If I Were a Carpenter” followed by Carlene Carter (Carter Cash’s daughter) and Ronnie Dunn (Brooks & Dunn)’s rollicking “Jackson” which, though employing a more modern Nashville sound, was certainly recorded in the spirit of the original. Carlene especially seems to channel the sassy, soulful essence of her mother’s performance. The record features two other notable pairings: “Far Side Banks of Jordan”, a lovely Kris Kristofferson/Patty Loveless duet, and “Road to Kaintuck”, which, though it features perhaps the album’s most surprising coupling, juxtaposing Billy Bob Thornton’s matter of fact monologue and the Peasall Sisters’ angelic harmonies, is one of the album’s more enjoyable and memorable cuts.
The quality of female vocalists present on Anchored in Love not only speaks volumes about the respect June Carter Cash received from other highly venerated artists (Loretta Lynn and Emmylou Harris turn in staggeringly beautiful performances on “Wildwood Flower” and “Song to John”, respectively) but also is proof of her influence on a younger generation of singers. The range between Grey DeLisle’s ethereal, breathtaking “Big Yellow Peaches” and stepdaughter Roseanne Cash’s spiritual, more traditional ballad “Wings of Angels” gives evidence of the diverse set of artists Carter Cash’s music touched.
And what of June Carter Cash’s most famous composition, “Ring of Fire”? The song receives gentle treatment from Elvis Costello; gone are the mariachi horns and shuffling guitar rhythms of Johnny Cash’s renowned recording, replaced instead by the organic sounds of mandolin, harmonium, accordion, and Carter Cash’s beloved autoharp in an effort, as John Carter Cash notes, to “focus more on my mother’s version of the song than my father’s version”. In fact, the presence of the autoharp on “Ring of Fire” and several other tracks is another sign of the thought and care with which the recording of these songs was undertaken. Foregoing any temptation to record showier or more personally glorifying versions of these songs, the artists involved seem to have made a deliberate effort to understate their own importance so that the grace inherent in Carter Cash’s songs might be seen. The album also includes fine performances by Ralph Stanley, Brad Paisley, and Billy Joe Shaver; there is not a weakly crafted offering to be found on the album, making Anchored in Love a consistently outstanding and certainly appropriate tribute record that, hopefully, will only broaden and increase the already tremendous impact of the Cash family.
Country Line Magazine (Texas) - www.countrylinemagazine.com
The life of the late country music legend June Carter Cash will be celebrated this June 19 with the simultaneous release of an all-star tribute album as well as an intimate memoir/biography written by her son, John Carter Cash.
The CD, "Anchored in Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash," boasts an impressive talent line-up including tracks by Elvis Costello, Billy Bob Thornton, Emmylou Harris, Carlene Carter and Ronnie Dunn, and Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson.
John Carter Cash, who produced the tribute CD, talks about the Crow/Nelson track, the classic "If I Were A Carpenter."
“Sheryl and my parents met in the 1990s through Rick Rubin, when she worked on my father¹s American III album. When my mother passed away, Sheryl was there at the funeral, and she got up and sang some music with Emmylou. She had sung “If I Were a Carpenter” with Willie on a tribute show to my father a few years back, so it was something they both knew very well. It was a heartfelt thing, a matter of the spirit, and also to pay respect to my mother and father's great original recording, when my parents turned the Tim Hardin song into a duet.”
(that's a very strange "review"! ;-)
Concertlivewire.com - Tony Bonyata
Johnny Cash and his wife, June Carter Cash, were, and still are, seminal figures in the history of country music - from both their own deep musical heritages and the immense legacies they left behind before their passing in 2003. While much has been written and recorded on Johnny throughout the last half century, June's story isn't nearly as well documented.
The Cash's only son, John Carter Cash, is about to change that, however, with the first biography on his mother entitled "Anchored In Love: An Intimate Portrait Of June Carter Cash," a long overdue book that chronicles June's childhood touring with the Carter Family, her early marriages, the rocky road of the music business and her lasting romance with Johnny. Coinciding with the release of this biography is a compilation CD, also titled Anchored in Love, that features a wealth of various artists covering songs that encompass June's entire career.
The album is brimming with talent - from June's daughter Carlene and Ronnie Dunn (of Brooks & Dunn) delivering a rousing version of "Jackson" and Elvis Costello's decidedly introspective and earthy take on the June-penned classic "Ring of Fire," to the strong duet from Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson on the album's proud opener "If I Were A Carpenter."
Going even deeper than the compositions either written or made famous by June, the album tips its hat to her own rich country-music lineage (her mother Maybelle Carter being one of the founding members of the early country music group The Carter Family, whose recordings made between 1927 and 1943 would go onto help shape not only the direction of country music, but also bluegrass, gospel and even rock & roll). Three Carter Family numbers, all originally penned by June's uncle A.P. Carter, are featured on this compilation and are given new life through interpretations from Loretta Lynn ("Wildwood Flower"), Brad Paisley ("Keep On The Sunny Side") and bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley ("Will The Circle Be Unbroken").
Perhaps the best summation of this album, however, is Emmylou Harris' moving rendition of "Song To John," a touching tribute of everlasting love and faith to June Carter Cash's true soul mate. And after listening to this moving number there's little doubt that Johnny and June aren't together on the other side at this very moment.
The Montclair Times - Mary Anne Christiano
The fact that most of the all-star performers are family and personal friends of the late June Carter Cash is what makes “Anchored in Love” such an endearing, honest tribute. Loved ones include Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Roseanne Cash and Emmylou Harris.
Producer, John Carter Cash, son of June and the late Johnny Cash, wrote personal track-by-track comments regarding why each artist was chosen to pay homage to the country music companions who met later in life and spent 40 married years together through hardships and success.
The animated opener “If I Were A Carpenter,” performed by Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson, gets the ball rolling and is certainly the best of the lot.
Other outstanding numbers include “Road to Kaintuck” featuring the angelic vocals of the Peasall Sisters and Billy Bob Thornton, whose voice mimics Johnny Cash himself; and a beloved tearjerker, “Song to John” by Emmylou Harris.
“Anchored in Love” will be released Tuesday, June 5, coinciding with the publication of John Carter’s book, “Anchored in Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash.”
www.examiner.com - by j. poet
Tribute albums tend to be uneven affairs, but producer John Carter Cash, son of June Carter Cash, has done his mom proud with “Anchored in Love” (Dualtone). June’s musical life included years in the Carter Family as well as her time singing with her husband Johnny Cash. She was also a first-rate songwriter, so the participants in this tribute album can draw on some of the greatest country tunes ever written. Loretta Lynn’s “Wildwood Flower,” Rosanne Cash’s “Wings of an Angel” and Ralph Stanley’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” are stunning. The only clunkers are the Sheryl Crow/Willie Nelson duet on “If I Were a Carpenter” and Elvis Costello’s oddly understated “Ring of Fire.”
Fort Worth Weekly (Texas) - Tom Geddie
Eventually almost overshadowed by her icon husband, June Carter Cash was still an American treasure. Anchored In Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash is a fitting if uneven paean to her, filled with songs — most sung by family friends — that either she wrote or that are associated with her and her family.
Instead of adventurous interpretations, the songs are safe, straight-ahead country tributes produced by John Carter Cash, the couple’s only child together. The 12-song disc will be released on June 5, the same time as his biography/memoir of his mother, by the same title.
Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson blend well on a fine, opening version of Tim Hardin’s “If I Were a Carpenter,” followed by Carlene Carter and Ronnie Dunn on the pepper-hot “Jackson.” Roseanne Cash adds a moving version of the hymn “(Bear Me Up on the) Wings of Angels.”
Two great songwriters fail here as singers. While Kris Kristofferson and Billy Joe Shaver manage to do their own songs well, they often have trouble singing other people’s material: Kristofferson’s “Far Side Banks of Jordan” duet with Patty Loveless, Shaver on “Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea.” Elvis Costello and Grey DeLisle do only passable jobs on, respectively, “Ring of Fire” and “Big Yellow Peaches,” although both seem to be trying to inject a bit of respectful originality.
Billy Bob Thornton’s recitation of “Road to Kaintuck” seems sincere but corny, even with vocal assists from the Peasall Sisters.
Also contributing performances are Emmylou Harris (“Song to John”), a weary-voiced Loretta Lynn (“Wildwood Flower”), Brad Paisley (“Keep on the Sunny Side”), and Ralph Stanley, whose aging Appalachian sound is just right for “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” The all-star-caliber list of backing musicians includes Randy Scruggs, Norman Blake, and Marty Stuart.
Anchored In Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash is as much of a tribute to a passing — or passed? — time as it is to the woman and her music.
AUGUSTA, GA. - June Carter Cash and her husband (you know…that guy) were without a doubt the first couple of country music. Faith Hill and Tim McGraw can suck my big toe.
Johnny and June survived a tumultuous courtship to become one of the genre’s most beloved duos, not to mention the individual success they both had, along the way inspiring each other to write such songs as “I Walk the Line,” and “Ring of Fire.
It is certainly fitting, then, that Anchored in Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash is almost as much a tribute to the both of them as it is to her. Four of the chosen tracks were sung as duets, with two more referencing Johnny himself.
The music itself is more than decent, with the flaws largely owing to the choice of artists covering the songs. Take the opening “If I Were a Carpenter:” Willie Nelson makes sense. Close friend of Johnny’s, and fellow outlaw countryman. Sheryl Crow…not so much. She makes the song pleasant enough to listen to, but her vocals are too clean to stand up to June’s soulful grit. Likewise, Carlene Carter and Ronnie Dunn do a better than passable job with “ Jackson,” but we can blame the producers for trying to update the sound too much.
Most of the album’s remainder is superb. “Far Side Banks of Jordan,” performed here by Patty Loveless and Kris Kristofferson, is perfect, retaining the song’s inherent qualities of sorrow, joy and faith. Brad Paisely turns in a fantastic and refreshingly stripped-down take on “Keep On The Sunny Side,” and Elvis Costello is brilliant with his jangly, slightly ambient version of “Ring of Fire.”
No one can be June Carter Cash, and woe betide to anyone who tries. Most of the artists on Anchored in Love seem to understand that, and the album is better off for it, serving as a fitting remembrance to the Carter/Cash legacy.
Slugmag.com - James Bennett
Anchored in Love = an all–star mix of Cash family and friends playing songs that made June Carter Cash a legend.
Anchored in Love is a twelve–song tribute record celebrating the musical legacy of June Carter Cash. Conceived and produced by her son John, Anchored in Love is a respectable mix of songs paired with solid musicians. Some highlights include Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow singing together on “If I were a Carpenter,” Loretta Lynn doing “Wildwood Flowers” and Rosanne Cash delivering an emotional version of “Wings of Angels.” The best song by far is Elvis Costello’s rendition of “Ring of Fire,” though Ralph Stanley playing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” is also really good. It’s all really good. The one lack–luster performance comes courtesy of Billy Bob Thorton—an awkward voice–over reminiscent of Spock. Many of the songs on the compilation were written by Cash, though some are country standards that date to her time touring with the Carter Family. These well chosen songs seem to be perfectly coupled with each musician’s distinct flare and strengths (having Billy Joe Shaver play “Kneeling Drunkard Plea” is nothing short of brilliant). This is a fantastic disk that pays homage to a fantastic woman—a testament to how good country music once was, and a reminder to us all that, in the right hands, it can still be pretty damn spectacular. Now if we could just stop Rascal Flatts.
The-m-files.com - Scott "Dr. Music" Itter
So many tributes so little time, right? I know what you're thinking. Every time you turn around you have some fool coming up with a "tribute" to just about anyone that's ever sung a note. And of course, 9 out of 10 of these tribute releases contain a pack of dogs all barking up the wrong tree. We've had Garth Brooks covering Kiss, David Lee Roth trying to sing bluegrass, and even a string quartet trying to salute AC/DC. Please, make it stop. Well, thanks to John Carter Cash, the 37-year old only son of Johnny and June, we're offered a tribute album that stops the bleeding.
Almost all of the artists involved in this project have some kind of direct link to the great June Carter Cash. Artists like Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris, and Ronnie Dunn were all personal friends of Cash. To hear these legends of Country music pour their hearts into these classic songs creates a perfect focal point for the direction of this disc. All of these artists are in their correct realms of style, and the emotional attachment shines through on so many of these tracks. Songs like "Wildwood Flower," sung by the remarkable Loretta Lynn is a thing of beauty. Grey De Lisle's chilling rendition of "Big Yellow Peaches" is something that churns in your stomach for weeks. Emmylou Harris's poignant attempt at the extremely personal "Song to John" hits the mark beautifully. But this is more than just Country artists doing what they do best. It's an album that finds Elvis Costello right at home performing, arguably, the most famous of all Cash songs, "Ring of Fire." With his inimitable flair and style he makes the song his own. I was scared to death when I saw Costello and "Ring" joined together on the track listing. I just had trouble believing that Costello would sound "believable," but obviously John Carter Cash has an ear for this kind of thing. You see, John Carter Cash personally matched each singer with a particular song, and may I say that he did quite an amazing job too. But even with his impressive coordination of singer and song, perhaps the most impressive thing about this collection is the production, which was also handled by Cash himself. While you might expect him to achieve a sharp modern punch with songs from Brad Paisley ("Keep On The Sunny Side") and Sheryl Crow (duet w/Willie Nelson on "If I Were A Carpenter"), you might not expect it with an artist like Kris Kristofferson (duet w/Patty Loveless on "Far Side Banks Of Jordan") who has throat lined with gravel - but Cash's production here is flawless. Kristofferson does his best to sound like a Bassett hound named Cletus on the front porch of a 1950's Kentucky backwoods shack, but Cash brings him right into 2007 without losing the "antique" tonal effect of his classic voice. Some of the best tracks of this collection - Carlene Carter and Ronnie Dunn's "Jackson," Brad Paisley's "Keep On The Sunny Side," and "Wings Of Angels" sung by Roseanne Cash - are successful due in great part to John Carter Cash's production efforts.
You might think of this as something of a soundtrack to June Carter Cash's life and times, and that would be a very accurate account. So, to accompany this CD release, John Carter Cash will also release his book, "Anchored In Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash." The book will cover JCC's entire life, but will especially focus on John's personal relationship with his mother. As he says, "A whole chapter might be devoted to a one-week or two-week period as a way of displaying her character, either comically, seriously or sadly." Writing the book and making the record as a way of aiding the grieving process, Cash admits "It was a path to peace in many ways." Well, let me tell you John, I know the record is a "path to peace" for many of us that have been waiting for a tribute album worth listening to. Thanks.
www.the9513.com - Brody Vercher
Anchored In Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash is the long due tribute to June Carter Cash. The album’s release coincides with the release of her biography/memoir written by her son, John Carter Cash, and includes songs that June wrote, made famous, or saved from being lost to time.
Willie Nelson croons the opening words “If I were a carpenter and you were a lady” to get the ball rolling on his duet with Sheryl Crow. Both artists sound wonderful singing their respective parts, but it almost sounds like they sang solos and then had the audio mixed together in post production instead of participating in a conversation through verse. Ronnie Dunn and Carleen Carter do a better job at bringing out the playful attitude and conversation aspect to “Jackson”, but still lack the chemistry that Johnny and June exude in their version.
The amount of talent present on the album is amazing and shows the influence that June Carter had on her family, peers, and fellow musicians. One such talent, Loretta Lynn, delivers nothing less than a Lorettaesque performance on “Wildwood Flower”. Kris Kristofferson echoes her performance by adding an immeasurable amount of authenticity to “Far Side Banks of Jordan” as he sings “I believe my steps are growing wearier each day / I got another journey on my mind.” The words slammed into me as I came to the realization that there won’t be many more opportunities to see one of the two remaining Highwaymen perform live.
Next up is Brad Paisley as he pays homage to traditional country music and June Carter on his faithful rendition of “Keep On The Sunny Side”. Following Paisley, Roseanne Cash delivers another fitting tribute and one of the stand out tracks on the album with her spiritually influenced version of “Wings of Angels”.
“Ring of Fire” has reached such climatic heights that it seems sacrilegious for anyone else but Johnny Cash to sing the song penned by June. To be honest I hated Elvis Costello’s version when first heard it. Then I went and listened to June’s version, and then Costello’s again. After I got over my own personal vex of hearing someone else sing the song I actually enjoyed it a little. Costello brings a Marty Robbins vibe to his interpretation as he tips his hat to June’s version of the song.
Billy Bob Thorton does a satisfactory job on “Road to Kaintuck”, but his pacing feels a little fast. Luckily he’s working with the brilliant Peasall Sisters. Elsewhere, Grey De Lisle haunts the listener as she quietly saunters through “Big Yellow Peaches”, a song that June wrote for actor Lee Marvin. Like Kristofferson on “Far Side Banks of Jordan”, Billy Joe Shaver adds his immeasurable authenticity to “Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea”–a song that could have very well come from the pen of Shaver himself.
Ralph Stanley introduces his bluegrass flavor on one of my favorite versions of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”, and concluding the album is June Carter…I mean Emmylou Harris channeling June Carter on a lump-in-your-throat inducing rendition of “Song to John”.
June Carter Cash’s impact on country music is underappreciated and perhaps overshadowed by the man she married, but with this album we get a glimpse, a small understanding of the influence she had on the music that we’ve come to love and who June Carter Cash was as a person. If we knew nothing about Carter Cash except what this album presents, one would be able to infer that she was devoted to her faith, deeply in love, strong-willed, and an overall beautiful person, so in that sense, the album succeeds and provides a fitting tribute.