VARIOUS ARTISTS – Johnny Cash Forever Words (Legacy Recordings)

Forever WordsJohnny Cash: Forever Words (or, according to the physical CD, Johnny Cash The Music Forever Words) is a collaborative album consisting of 16 songs based on Johnny Cash’s unpublished poetry, lyrics, and letters.

Some of them are drawn directly from Forever Words: The Unknown Poems, described as “a volume of Cash’s unpublished writing edited by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon“. Indeed, it has been described as a “musical companion” to the book. The promo copy I received didn’t come with a lyric sheet or information apart from a track listing naming the artist(s) for each song. And a spectacular array of artists it is, too. But it would have been nice to have known more about the supporting personnel, for example.

Here are the tracks and artists.

1          ‘Forever / I Still Miss Someone’ is a poem read by Kris Kristofferson over Willie Nelson’s guitar, where Nelson picks out the tune to the classic ‘I Still Miss Someone’, a song written by Johnny Cash and Roy Cash Jr and recorded way back in 1958. Despite Cash’s awareness here of his own mortality, there’s no doubt that his songs will indeed “still be sung“.

2          ‘To June This Morning’, by Ruston Kelly and Kacey Musgraves features Everly-ish harmonies over restrained banjo and guitar. Simple, short, effective.

3          ‘Gold All Over the Ground’ by Brad Paisley is a more mainstream country song/performance, but an excellent example of the genre.

4          ‘You Never Knew My Mind’ is sung by Chris Cornell, once described by Alice Cooper as “the best voice in rock and roll“, who died in May 2017. It has some of the feel of Cash’s last recordings.

5          ‘The Captain’s Daughter’ is performed by the Alison Krauss and Union Station. I’d crawl over glass to hear Krauss in any context, but, typically of her work with Union Station, there’s also some very nice instrumental work that doesn’t hurt my ears either. And it’s a fascinating story/song.

6          ‘Jellico Coal Man’, as performed by T Bone Burnett, captures nicely the feel of a typical Cash song (if there is such a thing) though the vocals are much lighter.

7          Rosanne Cash’s ‘The Walking Wounded’ is a slow ballad that reminded me a little of Mary Chapin Carpenter. Lovely.

8          While John Mellencamp has a voice all his own, I can certainly imagine ‘Them Double Blues’ in a Johnny-and-June concert performance, perhaps with a little more Luther Perkins “boom-chicka-boom” on the guitar. Sadly, that will have to remain a fantasy, unless some tribute act takes the hint.

9          Jewel’s ‘Body On Body’ starts off with folky acoustic guitar and builds into a ballad that shows off her vocal range to good effect.

10        On the whole, I like Elvis Costello’s songs more than his voice, but ‘I’ll Still Love You’ works well. If the lyric is less complex than you might expect, it melds very nicely with a typical Costello melody and layered orchestration.

11        Carlene Carter’s ‘June’s Sundown’ has a minor melody and instrumentation that recalls Eastern Europe rather than Memphis, but it’s perfect for the lyric.

12        ‘He Bore It All’ by Dailey & Vincent comes over as very mainstream bluegrass with a gospel theme and classy harmonies, banjo, mandolin and fiddle. As you’d expect.

13        ‘Chinky Pin Hill’ by I’m With Her, combines what sounds like a fretless banjo with cool twists of harmony and country fiddle. Fascinating: a trio I’d rather like to hear more of.

14        ‘Goin’, Goin’, Gone’ by Robert Glasper and featuring Ro James and Anu Sun, is in complete contrast, with more than a hint of Stevie Wonder in the arrangement and vocal delivery, but morphing into a spoken description of amphetamine addiction.

15        ‘What Would I Dreamer Do?’ is a nice country-rock performance by The Jayhawks.

16        Jamey Johnson is a new name to me, but ‘Spirit Rider’ is a fitting end to the album, though the tune is rather close to ‘Fields Of Gold’ at times.

This is a recording many people will want: fans of Johnny Cash, fans of one or more of the artists who participated, and anyone open to a rather different take on country music. Me, I’m off to find out more about some of the names here that are less familiar to me. And perhaps order the book…

David Harley

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Artist’s website: www.JohnnyCashForeverWords.com

‘The Walking Wounded’ – Rosanne Cash:

JOHNNY CASH: FOREVER WORDS

Legacy Recordings to Release Johnny Cash: Forever Words, an Album of Cash’s Unknown Poems & Other Writings Transformed into New Songs by Contemporary Artists

Album Features New Performances by Chris Cornell, Ruston Kelly & Kacey Musgraves, Rosanne Cash, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Kris Kristofferson & Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, John Mellencamp, Carlene Carter, Elvis Costello, The Jayhawks, and More

When Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash passed, they left behind what John Carter Cash, their son and Johnny Cash: Forever Words co-producer, describes as a “monstrous amassment” of things, including a treasure trove of undiscovered material that includes Johnny Cash’s handwritten letters, poems and documents, penned across the entirety of his life.

Over the past two years, album producers John Carter Cash and Steve Berkowitz invited a stellar cast of musicians to create new music to accompany these newly discovered Cash writings.

Recorded primarily at The Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee, Johnny Cash: Forever Words is also the musical companion to the best-selling “Forever Words: The Unknown Poems,” a volume of Cash’s unpublished writing edited by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon and curated by John Carter Cash and Steve Berkowitz.

Many of the songs on Johnny Cash: Forever Words were directly inspired by material in the book while others are drawn from different sources of Cash’s unpublished writings. The tone of the album is established with the opening track “Forever/I Still Miss Someone” featuring Kris Kristofferson reciting the last poem Cash ever wrote alongside guitar accompaniment from Willie Nelson, both lifelong friends of Johnny. Continuing the close-to-home theme, the music then transitions to the deeply personal “To June This Morning,” a letter Johnny wrote to his wife, June Carter Cash, now interpreted by real-life couple Ruston Kelly and Kacey Musgraves.

Twenty-one years after Johnny Cash recorded his cover of Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage” for his Grammy Award winning album, Unchained, Chris Cornell continues this special relationship with “You Never Knew My Mind,” setting some of Cash’s own poignant and introspective words to original music on one of Cornell’s last solo recordings.

The album also showcases Rosanne Cash, Johnny Cash’s eldest daughter, who interpreted her father’s “The Walking Wounded,” marking just the second time that she has collaborated on a record with her half-brother John Carter Cash.

John Carter Cash also collaborated here with his half-sister Carlene, his mother June’s first daughter, on “June’s Sundown.” Carlene Carter was just twelve years old when her mother June Carter married Johnny Cash, but bonded immediately with her stepfather who she referred to as “Big John.”

The Grammy Award winning bluegrass super-group Alison Krauss & Union Station made a rare recording together on “The Captain’s Daughter,” the group’s first new studio recording in six years.

“Determining the artist for each song was truly a matter of the heart,” said John Carter Cash. “I picked the artists who are most connected with my father, who had a personal story that was connected with Dad. It became an exciting endeavor to go through these works, to put them together and present them to different people who could finish them in a way that I believed that Dad would have wanted.”

When making the Johnny Cash: Forever Words album, producers John Carter Cash and Steve Berkowitz tapped into a spirit of musical collaboration between the musicians and the words of Johnny Cash. The goal of Johnny Cash: Forever Words was not to create a “lost” Johnny Cash album, but rather for musicians to connect with these poems and allow them to flourish in a new musical world.

Johnny Cash: Forever Words
1. Forever/I Still Miss Someone – Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson
2. To June This Morning – Ruston Kelly and Kacey Musgraves
3. Gold All Over the Ground – Brad Paisley
4. You Never Knew My Mind – Chris Cornell
5. The Captain’s Daughter – Alison Krauss and Union Station
6. Jellico Coal Man – T. Bone Burnett
7. The Walking Wounded – Rosanne Cash
8. Them Double Blues – John Mellencamp
9. Body on Body – Jewel
10. I’ll Still Love You – Elvis Costello
11. June’s Sundown – Carlene Carter
12. He Bore It All – Daily and Vincent
13. Chinky Pin Hill – I’m With Her
14. Goin’, Goin’, Gone – Robert Glasper featuring Ro James, and Anu Sun
15. What Would I Dreamer Do? – The Jayhawks
16. Spirit Rider – Jamey Johnson

Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release Johnny Cash: Forever Words – a collaborative album consisting of songs created from Johnny Cash’s unknown poetry, lyrics, and letters set to music by an astounding array of contemporary artists on Friday 6th April.

Johnny Cash: Forever Words will be available on CD, 2LP Vinyl and Digital formats.

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Web links:
WEBSITE: http://johnnycashonline.com/
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/johnnycash/
JohnnyCashForeverWords.com
LegacyRecordings.com

Larkin Poe and Thom Hell – THE SOUND OF THE OCEAN SOUND

Larkin Poe & Thom Hell (300dpi)Having toured internationally as The Lovell Sisters between 2005 and 2010, including performances at the Grand Ole Opry, Telluride and numerous other top venues and festivals, Rebecca and Megan relaunched themselves as Larkin Poe in January 2010, following the departure of eldest sister Jessica.

Still only in their early twenties, in just a little over two years as Larkin Poe, Rebecca and Megan have released five EPs and a live DVD and have performed with such luminaries as Elvis Costello, Fairport Convention and The Indigo Girls. During 2012 alone they have played headline shows at festivals across Europe including Beautiful Days, Celtic Connections, the Hebridean Celtic Festival and Fairport’s Cropredy Convention where they broke the festival record for CD sales.

During a particularly productive and rewarding year in 2012, they have also made guest appearances on new albums by Blair Dunlop and Gilmore & Roberts, rising stars of the UK folk scene, who were both recently nominated for prestigious BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, which take place on the 30th of January 2013.

Now Rebecca & Megan present a first full-length album, The Sound Of The Ocean Sound, a collaboration with multiple Norwegian ‘Spellemann’ (Grammy) winner Thom Hell, and special guest Sola Akingbola (Jamiroquai). Luck brought them together when Thom attended one of the band’s concerts, and two visits to the studio later the 10 songs of The Sound Of The Ocean Sound were complete. The album was recorded in two periods over the last two years at Ocean Sound Recordings studio in Giske, Norway, where Travis recently completed their forthcoming album.

Sola Akingbola, long-standing percussionist with Jamiroquai heard a rough mix of the record after playing at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Norway, and was so eager to play on the album he spent his only 2 days off during a 2 month long Jamiroquai tour, to lay down some exemplary percussion work.

The distinctive voices and harmonies of Larkin Poe and Thom Hell, combined with Rebecca and Megan’s signature mandolin and dobro sound, result in ten masterpieces of roots-inflected pop.

Larkin Poe & Thom Hell - 'The Sound Of The Ocean Sound' - cover (300dpi)The album also features Daniel Kimbro on bass, Chad Melton on drums and Mike Seal on guitar, all musicians who’ve played with Larkin Poe until recently. Norwegian producer Audun Borrmann recorded and produced the album in close collaboration with Larkin Poe and Thom Hell.

It will be available on CD, Vinyl and Digital download at the folking store below (RELEASE DATE MARCH 4 2013). The Sound Of The Ocean Sound features 10 tracks, six written by Rebecca & Megan Lovell, three by Thom Hell, and one co-written by Rebecca Lovell and Thom Hell in the studio.

“Though never quite abandoning the duo’s bluegrass roots the mandolin/dobro combination has clearly been harnessed to newly ambitious songwriting that’s taken a joyful, ultra-confident left-field swerve.” Acoustic

“Every exposure to Larkin Poe brings increasing evidence of emerging greatness.” The Herald

“. . . the 20-year-old sisters’ dynamic story-songs open up new realms of cream-fresh Americana” The Independent

“. . . rootsy, melodic, and reflective, not to mention highly irresistible.” Maverick

“With the Dixie Chicks on sabbatical, this could be Larkin Poe’s season in the sun.” The Observer

“What makes it all special is the pair’s ability to push the envelope, especially in the use of vocal arrangements . . . just when you think you know where you are, you’re taken someplace further. That’s a genuine gift.” R2

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Nicole Maguire – WHAT YOU REALLY MEAN

Nicole MaguireNicole Maguire has been determined to sing since childhood, she’s been writing songs since she was 12 and at just 15 was gigging, playing opening slots for anyone who’d let her. In addition to her musical gifts Nicole Maguire has been blessed with dedication and determination. This means she now finds herself, still in her mid 20s, with admirers including Paul Brady, Nanci Griffiths & Damien Dempsey and a self-funded album produced by Mitchell Froom (Crowded House, Pearl Jam, Paul McCartney). The band on the album includes Elvis Costello & the Attractions’ drummer, Pete Thomas; Crosby Stills & Nash’s bass player Bob Glaub and Val McCallum, guitarist for Sheryl Crow and Lucinda Williams.  Vonda Shepard, the award-winning singer from Ally McBeal, handled backing vocals, with Grammy award-winning engineer David Boucher assisting Mitchell Froom.  Nicole recalls that there was an incredible energy and momentum to the sessions. “We did it all live. We just went in and played it till we loved it and then we stopped. I hoped to create something that in twenty years I could be completely proud of. I think I did that”.

The album is profoundly emotional with a homespun lyricism that recalls Lucinda Williams, Bonnie Raitt’s early 70s recordings and Christine McVie’s poignant songcraft in Fleetwood Mac. Standout cuts include the stunning title track, the ethereal With You, the heartfelt sentimentality of Fall Apart and the guitar led Out Of Our Hands.

Petite and elfin, Maguire grew up in the windswept village of Conna, 20 miles from the coast of Southern Ireland — little grey stone buildings embracing a single road and subjugated under the heavy rolling rain clouds of the Celtic sea. Despite none of her immediate family playing an instrument, Maguire was powerfully drawn to music. She scoured through her family and friends’ record collections listening to everything they’d collected from folk to hard rock but was most captivated by the beguiling romanticism of the California songwriters.

A lively and inquisitive child at school, Maguire entered all the faculty’s music contests and frequently won. “Yes I used to enter competitions in primary school” she recalls. “I played pennywhistle and sang. I won one singing a Mary Black song called “No Frontiers”. Other times I would do reels and jigs. I do have a lot of medals.”

Nicole MaguirePic: Miki BarlokMaguire set out to perform her songs live but as a teenager she wasn’t legally allowed to enter the Guinness-soaked clubs of Dublin and Cork. As her growing stagecraft began to attract attention, Maguire looked for a concert mentor to coach her live performances to an even higher level. She chose none other than Ireland’s preeminent live performer – Damien Dempsey“I got invited to a Damien Dempsey gig and I went up to him and said I was a songwriter. He must hear that twenty times a week, but he gave me a support slot at his next show. He did such a wonderful thing for me. He gave me the support at his Vicar Street show which is the ultimate concert in Ireland. I got to road test those songs with a full band in front of his intense audience. I think he’s one of the most important Irish songwriters and in a hundred years from now his songs will be in all the Irish folk song books”.

As her touring became more frequent, Maguire realised she needed something to sell on the road to pay for room and board. She decided to cut an EP, but with no label she was forced to make sacrifices having to sell her car to pay for the manufacturing. Soon her frequent performances across Ireland would introduce her to her next champion — Grammy award winning Texan singer Nanci Griffith. “The girl they had lined up to support Nanci on her Irish tour pulled out at the very last minute. Nanci took me under her wing and was so kind. I learned an awful lot from those gigs. It was just me and my guitar and a theatre full of people.”Griffith and her band encouraged Maguire to try out her material Stateside. “Some of Nanci’s band said “have you ever considered going to Nashville to write? So I just saved up some money and got on a plane and went. Every second person you meet in that city is a songwriter. Even the guy driving the bus is playing the passengers his songs! I was paying for it with my hard saved pennies so I chose very carefully who I wanted to work with. It was so productive that I saved more money to go back a second time. After going to school with Paul Brady, I guess this was like going to University for me.”

With a brace of songs that she’d road tested around America and Ireland, Maguire decided it was time to make an album and headed into the recording studio with Mitchell Froom at the helm. The resulting album is now available for your listening pleasure.

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LARKIN POE – Thick As Thieves

Thick as Thieves is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Larkin Poe release Band for all Seasons, the box set of 4 EPs the band recorded and released through the seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter) of 2010.

On Thick as Thieves, Larkin Poe have taken a further leap into soul and R&B territory, while retaining some roots in their heritage of Bluegrass and country of their former band The Lovell Sisters.

Where Band for all Seasons was considered the band’s work of 2010, Thick as Thieves is what the band caught on tape in 2011 in between a hectic touring schedule in Europe and the USA.

All the songs on Thick As Thieves have been co-written by Rebecca and Megan Lovell. They also co-produced the CD with Marlon Patton, one of Atlanta’s most sought after drummers, who plays percussion on the album, with regular drummer Chad Melton again featuring, and on this release the band has now switched to Rick Lollar on guitars, while Todd Parks and Will Robertson guest on bass and keyboards respectively.

The first single ‘Play On’ fronts the release and has already been viewed over 70,000 times on YouTube since its US release earlier this year. This special edition of Thick As Thieves has a bonus DVD with two high quality music videos and 14 live concert tracks. The concert was recorded on the band’s last European tour in a small Norwegian wine cellar venue with room for just 36 people – a very intimate setting compared to the numerous sold out venues the band played on the same tour, either on their own or as support and band for their long-time fan Elvis Costello.

For this special concert recording, the band dressed up in medieval costumes for the night to complement the interior of the unique setting. Live From Stongfjorden includes songs from the new Thick As Thieves release as well as a several favourites from their previous releases.

Larkin Poe will be touring Europe extensively during the summer, including several major festival appearances in the UK.

“… these girls have the vocal and song writing prowess to make a success of whatever genre they turn their hand to.” Americana-UK

“…sublime vocal harmonies… the arrangements are inventive, varied and skilfully played… remarkably mature and accomplished.” Country Music People

“…the 20-year-old sisters’ dynamic story-songs open up new realms of cream-fresh Americana” The Independent

“…rootsy, melodic, and reflective, not to mention highly irresistible.” Maverick

 “With the Dixie Chicks on sabbatical, this could be Larkin Poe’s season in the sun.” The Observer

“…a delicious collision between influences of the storytelling tradition, Nashville commerciality and fine musicianship.” Taplas

“…already gifted as instrumentalists and, having a head start on the rest of us with the unique power and beauty of sibling harmony in their vocal blend, their songwriting has leapt forward and now surprises and delights in equal measure.” Elvis Costello

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See the web link below for the latest tour dates: http://www.larkinpoe.com/tour/

Changing Horses – The Nashville Sessions

Changing Horses are British Indie-Folk duo Richard Birtill (vocals and guitar) and Francesca Cullen (vocals, violin, mandolin and melodeon). Stylistically taking influence from the psychedelic likes of The Incredible String Band, and the experimental art-punk of The Fall, theirs is a patchwork of off-kilter folk that has drawn in the plaudits from numerous sources. After holing up in a Nashville studio with session musician / producer Chris Donohue (Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris) the track ‘Cut All Strings’ featured on an HBO documentary and went on to pick up multiple plays on both the Steve Lamacq and Bob Harris BBC radio shows. Last year’s festival season also saw the band grace stages at Kendal Calling, Solfest, Brampton, Crawley Folk Festival and SO festival.

It’s on the live circuit the Changing Horses’ reputation has been built. The last few months have seen them perform as main support to the likes of Jeffrey Lewis, Pat Sansone (Wilco), Ade Edmondson and Adam Green. Captured here on The Nashville Sessions however, is a band vying for the unconventional, yet still maintaining core melodies. Flitting between the wistful (Cut All Strings), the fragile (One Million Screaming Angels) and the macabre (‘Till Death), when things do take a more popular twist, Birtill’s wrought vocals still punctuate Cullen’s neat string play. In turn, I Don’t Need It’s discordant opening phrasing soon makes way for a wave of anthemic guitars.

“Truly original and delightful” – Robin Williamson, The Incredible String Band

Deeply personal songwriting, tongue-in-cheek moments, macabre themes and innovative string playing make up Changing Horses’ The Nashville Sessions; a strong debut from a band that lives to draw the listener into their own lovesick universe.

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