Album of the Week, Johnny Cash, 'American IV: The Man Comes Around,' Wednesday, July 27, 2022 at 4 p.m.

Text adapted from a review in The Guardian.

At 70, Johnny Cash was still defiant and still making country music with a rock 'n' roll attitude when he released American IV: The Man Comes Around in 2002. He was Robert Mitchum with an acoustic guitar. His ill health had merely given his odes to unrepentant bad boys a stinging resonance.

The title track rambles down the road to Armageddon, but this being the Man in Black, it's doubtful he'd be happy in heaven. He savours his role as a murderer in "Sam Hall," spitting with hate while grasping at life. Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" is given a sheen of weariness from someone who has battled his own drug demons, the sharp self-pity smoothed to a blurry mundanity. Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" goes from grand opera to a personal quest for fulfilment. Cash's vocals betray his fragility -- "Bridge Over Troubled Water" sounds like karaoke, Grandad-style -- but he still puts guest stars Don Henley and Nick Cave in the shade with his fury, humour and absolute cool.

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