To create a superior anthology disc you need a good concept to inspire strong performances. Sony's new Kindred Spirits: A Tribute to the Songs of Johnny Cash provides a wide assortment of stellar recording artists with ample opportunity to explore material from Johnny Cash’s copious catalog. In every case, these performers not only rise to the occasion, but also create new memorable versions of Cash’s best songs.
The cast of characters contributing to Kindred Spirits: A Tribute to the Songs of Johnny Cash features an impressive assemblage of contemporary musical heavy hitters. The CD's roster includes Dwight Yoakum, Rosanne Cash, Bob Dylan, Little Richard, Keb Mo, Travis Tritt, Hank Williams Jr., Bruce Springsteen, Charlie Robison, Sheryl Crowe, Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Steve Earle, Marty Stuart, and Janette Carter. Impressed yet? Picking the most outstanding performances is nearly impossible since every artist nails their song. Seriously, not a single clinker slid into the album. My personal favorites include Bob Dylan, whose song "Train of Love," features a spine-tingling introduction, and Little Richard's "Get Rhythm" which churns up sparks rocking so hard it could melt down your speakers. Keb Mo slows "Folsom Prison Blues" way down and turns it into a country blues worthy of Robert Johnson, complete with its signature lick transposed to slide guitar.
Produced by ex-son-in-law Marty Stuart (Johnny has maintained good relations with all his ex-son-in-laws who also include Nick Lowe and Rodney Crowell,) Kindred Spirits: A Tribute to the Songs of Johnny Cash ends up being far more than your typical star-studded cluster pluck. It showcases the man in black’s superb songwriting ability by demonstrating how his songs can work beautifully with a wide variety of musical styles. Many anthologies end up languishing on dusty shelves because after a few spins they loose their luster, but Kindred Spirits: A Tribute to the Songs of Johnny Cash is a musical pearl of inestimable beauty and value that you can enjoy again and again.