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Album Review: Johnny Cash – Out Among the Stars

3 min read

It’s been sixty years since Johnny Cash started his music career and there is still not a single artist like him. The Man in Black spent half a century creating music in his distinctive style, becoming a household name all over the world with hits like Folsom Prison Blues, Get Rhythm and Ring of Fire.

SJohnnyCash-OutAmongTheStarsomewhere in the early 1980s, Cash recorded Out Among the Stars, an album which would be shelved and lost until 2012 to be finally released in 2014 with the help of his son John Carter Cash. The first preview of the album came with the release of the single She Used to Love Me A Lot, a cover of David Allan Coe’s 1984 hit. The track is distinctly Cash with his one-of-a-kind voice and subdued, sombre tone. The single sets the tone for the rest of the album as we hear tracks recorded from an era where Cash was on top of his musical game, with his voice in prime condition.

Cash’s blend of Country, Rock & Roll and Gospel influenced music earned him the reputation as one of the most influential and successful musicians of all time and the new album is a treat for fans who’ve been waiting three decades to hear it.

The record, while mostly covers, is one of Cash’s best works from the 80s and flows well from track to track. It features guest appearances from several familiar artists including Waylon Jennings (I’m Movin’ On) and June Carter Cash (Baby Ride Easy and Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time) and is one of the more upbeat, positive sounding collections in Cash’s discography.

It’s always a highlight when June Carter Cash and Johnny perform together and Baby Ride Easy is no exception as the two trade vocals in the upbeat and high-energy duet. The cute, romantic duet is full of positive vibes and conjures images of back when the two would have fun performing on stage together.

Two of the album’s other highlights are Cash’s original tracks, Call Your Mother and I Came to Believe. The former sees Cash speaking directly to a partner with somewhat solemn lyrics (“When you get a chance would you please call your mother/And thank her for the good years that we had/Gently break the news that you don’t love me/And give my best regards to your good old dad”) against a contrastingly upbeat musical background. I Came to Believe is more subdued as Cash sings about a new found faith in a “power much higher than I”.

Out Among the Stars is a wonderful selection of previously unheard Johnny Cash material and John Carter Cash should be commended for making the decision to release the newly discovered collection. The now-44-year-old has noted this album as a “really personal connection” to his late father as he heard songs he hadn’t since they were recorded when he was 14. The album will likely be welcomed by long-term fans as a personal connection for them as well as they experience the music from so long ago for the first time. Out Among the Stars is one of Cash’s best from the era and would be a positive addition to most record collections.