Johnny Cash – Forever Words

Talking the Lines:

Forever Words follows in the footsteps of similar albums dedicated to Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie by taking a handful of Johnny Cash’s unrecorded lyrics and challenging various artists to turn them into completed songs.

Although there’s an inevitable slant towards Country and Bluegrass numbers, the most notable tracks take the material in unusual directions. Elvis Costello brings swirling strings and jazz piano to I’ll Still Love You, while Chris Cornell, in his last known recording, turns You Never Knew My Mind into an anguished rock anthem.

The best interpretations, however, use minimalist arrangements to bring the Man in Black’s fantastic words to the forefront, such as when Kris Kristofferson delivers a grizzled spoken-word reading of Forever accompanied by Willie Nelson on guitar, and real-life couple Kacey Musgraves and Ruston Kelly transform a love letter to June Carter with heartbreakingly beautiful harmonies.

This review first appeared in The Belfast Telegraph