Nearly every tune seems chosen to afford the ailing giant of popular music a chance to reflect on his life, and look ahead to what's around the corner.
From the opening track—Cash's own The Man Comes Around, filled with frightening images of Armageddon—the album, produced by Rick Rubin, advances a quiet power and pathos, built around spare arrangements and unflinching honesty in performance and subject. In 15 songs, Cash moves through dark, haunted meditations on death and destruction, poignant farewells, testaments to everlasting love, and hopeful salutes to redemption. He sounds as if he means every word, his baritonebass, frequently frayed and ravaged, taking on a weary beauty. By the time he gets to the Beatles' In My Life, you'll very nearly cry. Go ahead. He sounds as if he's about to, too. Unforgettable.