Listen Up: Wednesday, May 23, 2007
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Anchored In Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash (Dualtone Music Group)

By Tom Geddie

Eventually almost overshadowed by her icon husband, June Carter Cash was still an American treasure. Anchored In Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash is a fitting if uneven paean to her, filled with songs — most sung by family friends — that either she wrote or that are associated with her and her family. Instead of adventurous interpretations, the songs are safe, straight-ahead country tributes produced by John Carter Cash, the couple’s only child together. The 12-song disc will be released on June 5, the same time as his biography/memoir of his mother, by the same title. Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson blend well on a fine, opening version of Tim Hardin’s “If I Were a Carpenter,” followed by Carlene Carter and Ronnie Dunn on the pepper-hot “Jackson.” Roseanne Cash adds a moving version of the hymn “(Bear Me Up on the) Wings of Angels.” Two great songwriters fail here as singers. While Kris Kristofferson and Billy Joe Shaver manage to do their own songs well, they often have trouble singing other people’s material: Kristofferson’s “Far Side Banks of Jordan” duet with Patty Loveless, Shaver on “Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea.” Elvis Costello and Grey DeLisle do only passable jobs on, respectively, “Ring of Fire” and “Big Yellow Peaches,” although both seem to be trying to inject a bit of respectful originality. Billy Bob Thornton’s recitation of “Road to Kaintuck” seems sincere but corny, even with vocal assists from the Peasall Sisters. Also contributing performances are Emmylou Harris (“Song to John”), a weary-voiced Loretta Lynn (“Wildwood Flower”), Brad Paisley (“Keep on the Sunny Side”), and Ralph Stanley, whose aging Appalachian sound is just right for “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” The all-star-caliber list of backing musicians includes Randy Scruggs, Norman Blake, and Marty Stuart. Anchored In Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash is as much of a tribute to a passing — or passed? — time as it is to the woman and her music.


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