March 2, 2006

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Rosanne Cash, Black Cadillac
Capitol, 2006

Rosanne Cash’s curse is to forever live in the very big shadow of her famous daddy. Raised in large part by her mother, Vivian Cash Distin, Rosanne Cash joined her father’s road show once she graduated high school. Along the way, she tried a few other careers before settling down to make music.

The songs on Cash’s latest disc were written at a dark time in her life — the death of her stepmother, June Carter Cash, followed by her father’s passing and, finally, her own mother.’s As you might expect, much of Black Cadillac is concerned with these deaths and trying to make sense of them, as well as other dark times in Rosanne Cash’s life.

Much heralded in the popular media, Black Cadillac is seen as Cash’s darkest, most introspective, since her Interiors in the early ’90s. I won’t argue with that, but I can’t help but think the acclaim of the new disc has more to do with Johnny Cash’s legend than Rosanne’s artistry.

There are a few songs on the new disc that stand out, but for the most part I was not so impressed. The same metaphors and imagery are used in song after song, giving you that “haven’t I heard this one before” feeling. And many of the songs are so personal that they defy the listener’s ability to relate. Listening to the disc is more like reading someone’s diary than hearing music that can engender a shared feeling or inspire musing on some universal question.

Rosanne Cash has built her own career and made some genuinely good music. The tragedy is, she’ll never really be judged on her own merits, especially when she’s singing about her daddy’s death. Black Cadillac is decent, but she’s done better.

B-

— Robert Greene