A Rosanne Cash
She Remembers Everything
The passage of time, tenacious love, a life on the road and mortality suffuse Rosanne Cash's new album. "From this point on there's nothing certain/except there's not many miles to go," she sings in the country-rocker "Not Many Miles to Go." In "Everyone But Me," a solemn piano hymn, she counsels, "Our strange and beautiful lies/Fade and turn to dust." Cash is 63; she is neither pretending otherwise nor regretting where she stands.
Cash contemplates the present as the outcome of a lifetime of choices, balancing memories and prospects, loyalties and second thoughts, repentance and acceptance.
Her voice finds equipoise in those mixed emotions. It seems transparent, natural and confiding. The nearly unornamented way she carries melodies, shading some words with the tiniest bit of a quaver, comes across as pensive and determined; it lets her find mythic resonances behind everyday details.
"Crossing to Jerusalem," written with her husband, John Leventhal, presents a marriage as a pilgrimage toward home, telescoping a long life together into brief verses: "The birthdays and the babies/The bourbon and the tears/Roaring like a hurricane/Tearing up the years." Another of their collaborations, "The Undiscovered Country," considers past and future generations and longtime attachments, concluding that she is "thankful for what we don't understand/the undiscovered country between a woman and a man."
Cash adds a new variable to her music after collaborating with Leventhal since 1993 as a producer and main songwriting partner. Half of She Remembers Everything was produced by Tucker Martine, who has worked with the Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens, Neko Case and his wife, Laura Veirs . His tracks move Cash from Leventhal's pristinely rootsy Americana into moodier, noirish realms.
That's the tone of the ambiguous and gripping title song, written by Cash and Sam Phillips. Its mysterious central character is a traumatized woman who might be the narrator's younger self or one of her victims. "Who knows who she used to be/before it all went dark?" Cash sings, and later, "I don't know her now/my bitter pill, my broken vow/this girl who sings/she remembers everything." Its troubles stay vividly unresolved.
While the songs face sorrows, they don't capitulate. They place sadness alongside love and perseverance, the experiences of a long adult life; they savor consolations. "Particle and Wave," written by Cash, measures a lifetime against the laws of physics, immutable on a scale far larger than mere human existence. "Light is particle and wave," Cash sings. "It reveals what we hold dear/and it slows so I can hold you near."
Hot tracks: all
-- JON PARELES
The New York Times
A- Anderson .Paak
Aftermath/12 Tone Music
Anderson .Paak isn't far from the beach, but he has left the shore. His latest whisks fans from the ocean breeziness of his Grammy-nominated second album Malibu, and waves them into the passenger seat for a gritty, funk-filled ride to his hometown in Southern California, for which the new album is named.
The trip is thrilling. Paak's collaboration with Dr. Dre is a beautiful thing. "The Chase" sounds perfectly fit for the soundtrack of a 1970s Blaxploitation film.
Paak dons a '90s vibe on the Snoop Dogg-assisted "Anywhere," and takes cues from other genres, like on the island-tinged "Saviers Road," where he shouts out his doubters and details the struggle of his come-up. "I was somewhere in between giving up, and doing a sentence," he raps of life a decade ago.
"Tints" featuring Kendrick Lamar and "Who R U?" are no-brainer wins for Paak, and with guests like J. Cole on the lovely, soulful "Trippy," the odds are in Paak's favor. But he succeeds when he pushes the envelope, too. On standout "6 Summers," he delves into gun violence.
"There's money to be made in the killing spree/that's why he trying to start a war on the Twitter feed," Paak spits, before he returns to his refrain: "Pop, pop, pop goes the shooter/reform, reform shoulda came sooner."
Hot tracks: "Saviers Road," "Anywhere," "6 Summers"
-- MELANIE J. SIMS
The Associated Press
A- Van Morrison
The Prophet Speaks
Van Morrison's 40th studio album is missing his usual complaints about the greed and cynicism of the music business. It has a relaxed, easy groove as Morrison relishes his recent incarnation as a jazz singer backed by an expressive, moody band.
Morrison has been singing for well over half a century and he's rarely sounded so comfortable and unforced.
He's once again using the considerable talents of Joey DeFrancesco and his band. The results are impressive, with 73-year-old Morrison focusing on the feel and texture of each song rather than seeking revelatory, soul-stretching crescendos. He seems to have found a style that fits him as he ages. The blend of instruments, including Hammond organ and horns that echo the late 1950s, sounds fresh today.
There are a few straightforward covers, including John Lee Hooker's "Dimples" and Solomon Burke's "Gotta Get You Off My Mind," that let Morrison pay tribute to departed performers he used to share bills with. New songs -- including "Spirit Will Provide" and the title track -- conjure up Morrison's mystical approach to lyrics and arrangement.
Even more compelling is "Ain't Gonna Moan No More," a Morrison original that pays homage to Muddy Waters, Hooker and Louis Armstrong.
Hot tracks: "Ain't Gonna Moan No More," "Gotta Get You Off My Mind," "Spirit Will Provide" "The Prophet Speaks"
-- GREGORY KATZ
The Associated Press
Style on 12/25/2018
Print Headline: Cash Remembers Everything; Paak goes home again