This is the latest in the line of American Recordings produced by Rick Rubin and continues the successful formula of Johnny Cash, with a minimum of backing, mostly covering songs which you wouldn't associate with country music.
The real triumph on this album is his cover of "Hurt" a song about drug addiction, which Johnny brings a whole new meaning to, and if listened to in conjunction with the award winning video, in which he looks so vulnerable, in contrast to that strong bass voice, it's extremely moving.
His own song, the title track "When the man comes around" is the strongest song he's written in years.
I always think his voice works best when he sings songs you don't expect and this is demonstrated on "personal Jesus" which is another standout track.
I don't think the covers of "Brige over troubled water","Desperado",I hung my head" or "streets of Laredo" work to the same degree. They are not badly done, they just don't drag you out of your comfort zone in the way covers of artists such as Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode and on his previous album U2, Nick Cave and Will Oldham do.
All considered, definitely a good buy, but doesn't quite match the heights achieved by American III, Solitary Man.