Album Reviews: Rosanne Cash, Linda Ronstadt

I spend a good chunk of my salary on music, and it seems wasteful not to pass it on when I’ve made a particularly worthy purchase. Here are some recent purchases that I think are worth your money, too:

Rosanne Cash
Black Cadillac

An album written in the aftermath of the death of her father, stepmother and stepsister, followed by the death of her mother as the album neared completion? The expecations are bound to be unreasonable. Somehow, Cash exceeds them anyway. This is a strikingly intimate, insightful and ultimately uplifting record that should be necessary listening for processing grief. The inherent wisdom in a song like “God Is In The Roses”, which follows the title by adding “God is in the roses and the thorns”, is just one poetic example of Cash’s writing on this project, which features some of the best songs she’s ever written. I can’t help but wonder if her stepsister Carlene Carter will also use her brilliant talent to process these events. Johnny & June were such significant figures in American culture, especially for country music fans; it’s a beautiful thing that Rosanne has used her own grief to help us process the loss we feel with their absence from the stage.

Linda Ronstadt
The Best of Linda Ronstadt: The Capitol Years

I realize that I’ve been threatening to do a long reissues post for months now, and I will do it, but releases like this help me reveal my philosophy about these things a little at a time. Here’s the conceit behind this 2-CD set: all four of Ronstadt’s Capitol albums, two of which had fallen out of print, collected together, digitally remastered with five unreleased tracks from the same era. Boom! With two CD’s for twenty bucks, you get everything there is to have from the developing years of one of the most important female artists in the history of country music. This is what labels need to do for the artists of that era, where two albums easily fit on one CD. Capitol is wisely doing the same for Merle Haggard, releasing ten of his classic albums on five CD’s next month. Carlene Carter and Rodney Crowell found their nearly-forgotten early work suddenly back in print by a similar approach last year. I can only hope other labels start doing the same thing. It is criminal that any work by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris or Waylon Jennings remains out-of-print. And I still can’t figure out why almost all of the Olivia Newton-John albums available on CD are the ones nobody bought in the first place, while her platinum-sellers can only be bought via import. Silliness, don’t you think?


  1. The sonic improvements alone, make this collection a worthy purchase: good and timeless material – excellent sound – listed at a good price – what more could you want ?

  2. Linda’s biggest contributions to country music are really encapsulated on those four Capitol albums that were bought together on this 2-CD set. If anyone really wants to understand why she is so important to three generations of female artists, country or otherwise, even though she never considered herself a country performer in the strict Nashvillian sense (she’s much more Sunset Blvd. than Music Row), here’s as good a place to start as any.

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