Johnny Cash

"Out Among The Stars"

(Sony); Country

By ​Phil ​Bennett

Country music fans will be pleased as punch with this “new” release from the late, great Johnny Cash.

Recorded during the musically confusing ‘80s, when snare drums the width of a Mack truck were de rigeur, an artist like Cash found himself in commercial difficulty. So much so that this album, recorded in 1981, was shelved entirely.

Until now.

So, for all intents and purposes, it really is a new Johnny Cash album and, let’s face it, there’s something pretty special about the way he wraps his rusty pipes around a melody, addressing the tunes with the aural equivalent of John Wayne’s swagger, all laconic charm and worldly wise nonchalance.

But it’s when he switches on the heartache button, such as on the sombre, introspective She Used To Love Me A Lot, that he totally displays his mastery. With deft, understated genius, he infuses the song with such tightly contained emotion and just a hint of a vocal quiver evoking the true spirit of a man suppressing the tear that’s dying to fall.

Backed by a crack group of musicians, the performances throughout are top notch all round, whether the songs are playful or painful and the album is of such a high quality that you scratch your head and wonder why it’s taken so long to see the light of day.

A couple of feisty guest spots round out proceedings with June Carter offering gale force gusto with her duet Baby Ride Easy and Waylon Jennings shuffling energetically alongside on Hank Snow’s classic I’m Moving On.

Out Among The Stars is yet another fabulous recording to enhance Cash’s enduring legacy.

Extremely satisfying and very welcome.

​Phil ​Bennett

Musician, actor, singer, music reviewer, Phil’s interests cover a lot of bases and this is reflected in the music he writes about. From blues to soul, ambient to electronic, Phil writes about artists he feels are interesting, true to their craft and worthy of your ears.