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on 17 January 2014
"The River & The Thread", the first release of new material in nearly a decade by singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash is a wonderful "travelogue" through the South. After having listened to this album, I thought: Wow! Her late father Johnny Cash would have been so proud of her. Of course, I should mention that you need to listen to this album multiple times to be able to truly appreciate it as this is not a musical "quickie", so to speak. Take your time, sit back, close your eyes and really listen so you can immerse yourself in these wonderful songs.

This album is not something you can easily put a music-label on as it has elements of country, folk, bluesy soul, jazz and pop/rock. These personal songs are lyrical stories about her travels in the Deep South of the USA put to music, using her wonderful voice to paint word-pictures as she examines what it means to be a Southern American. Rosanne Cash wrote the album's 11 original songs with her longtime collaborator and husband John Leventhal, who also served as producer, arranger and guitarist.

"A Feather's Not A Bird", the opening song of the album, and which reminded me of Creedence Clearwater Revival, is a great example of Rosanne's mixing of styles. "Sunken Lands", named for the area where Johnny Cash grew up, is a nice harmonic ditty, and "Etta's Tune" is an ode to Etta and Marshall Grant, Marshall being a longtime family friend and member of Johnny Cash's band. The catchy "Modern Blue" has a strong Tom Petty/Jeff Lynne-vibe and the hymn-like "Tell Heaven" is a meditation on longing and loneliness.

Next is the moody Southern pop song "The Long Way Home", about memories of her father and her time in Tennessee, which is followed by "World Of Strange Design" with its catchy country chorus. "Night School" evokes the mood of a nursery rhyme while the bluesy "50,000 Watts" with its gospel overtones is one of my favorites. Another great song is "When the Master Calls The Roll", a tale of love torn apart during the Civil War with elements from gospel and Irish folk (and based on two of Cash's relatives from the Civil War era).

Cash finishes with "Money Road", an evocative song about a road in Mississippi where you find the grave of blues legend Robert Johnson; the grocery store where in 1955 the black youth Emmett Till supposedly flirted with a white woman and was hanged for that offence; and the Tallahatchie Bridge, which features also in "Ode To Billie Joe," Bobbie Gentry's 1967 hit about two lovers who drop something forever mysterious off that bridge.

Rosanne Cash is an outstanding singer-songwriter, making every word and every note count, with a crystalline voice that fits perfectly with her style of music. As I said at the start of this review, take your time as you listen to "The River & The Thread", as these songs are threaded together into one cohesive work that should be listened to from front to back in its entirety without interruptions. Recommended!
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on 14 May 2017
Good buy and quality
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on 30 July 2017
Johnny in a skirt
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on 15 March 2014
Heard an interview with Roseanne on drive time radio 2 simon played "When the master calls the roll" from then on i knew i had to get the cd. There is not a track on the album i don't like, buy it you will not be disappointed.
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on 23 August 2017
Fantastic album. Title track is my favourite but it''s all a great sound and easy to listen to.
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on 10 February 2014
This album is a masterpiece. Rosanne has produced some superb material over the last 35 years but this is what its all been leading up to. The lyrics are incisive and the music is just magical. Her husband John has brought the very best out of his wife. The standard of the music is staggering. Buy the deluxe edition if you can. As well as three extra tracks there's a 36 page book explaining how the album was created and loads of atmospheric photographs. Her website has a great video about the albums genesis as well. This is one of the releases of 2014 and deserves all the success its received and will receive. Its faultless.
As an addendum Rosanne has entered the UK album charts at No 25 this week (16/2) Well done to everyone that bought it!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 11 February 2014
This is Rosanne's Cash first album since 2009's "The List" and her first original material since the brilliant "Black Cadillac" released in 2006. While the giant shadow of her father will never be forgotten she is a completely self-sufficient artist with a recording history that proudly stands on its own merit. This new album "The River and the Thread" will only serve to increase her stature since is it comfortably up there with her best work and a great starting point for music in 2014. Cash wrote the album's 11 original songs with her longtime collaborator (and husband) John Leventhal, who also served as producer, arranger and guitarist and it is released on the great Blue Note label. A classy home for a classic singer.

It is an travelogue album completely immersed in the South, its cities, towns, history, highways and bye ways not least the music cities of Memphis and Nashville. Cash can also call upon the A List on the music profession and assiting her on the album are artists that include Rodney Crowell (who also co-wrote one song), Amy Helm, Kris Kristofferson, Allison Moorer, John Prine, Derek Trucks and ,John Paul White from the Civil Wars. The song writing is out of the top drawer and Cash's voice is deepening with a timbre that can often stir your soul and combines a nice mix of gritty-yet-ethereal intonation. The 11 songs are uniformly consistent in their quality and the musicianship speaks for itself. The opening track "A Feather's Not a Bird" is a swampy blues which sees Cash confessing that she "burned up seven lives/and I have used up all my charms". Not so since the glorious "Etta's Tune" is an utterly beguiling country lament, while "Modern Blue" sees her band stretch out and produce a pulsating soft rocker charting Cash's affinities to her birthplace in Memphis Tennessee. The song "World of Strange Design" saunters along with consummate ease and you sneakily wish that her old Father might have added it to his great "American Recordings" if he was still around. The mood slows for the standout track "Night School" a gorgeous slow lament which Cash completely nails. As for "50,000 Watts" with Leventhal, it comes from a comment from Ry Cooder to Cash who told her that when he heard her father sing 'Hey Porter' on the radio for the first time, it gave him hope; he knew there was a world with meaning out there. "Fifty thousand watts of common prayer". Finally the album closes with two sterling songs the albums longest "When the master calls the roll" and the superb closer "Money Road" which sees Cash dreaming about that old Tallahatchie Bridge (although no sign of old Billie Joe).

This homage to the Deep South sees Cash playing to her strengths. The River and the Thread has already been lauded by the British Music Magazine Uncut who gave it 10 out of 10, and why not since Rosanne Cash has probably produced the best album of her illustrious career.
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on 27 June 2014
8 years have passed since Roseanne Cash released an album of original material, and it was well worth the wait! This CD is a collaboration between Roseanne and husband John Leventhal. The word `Masterpiece` was used by Elton John, when asked his opinion of this 11 track collection, (the de-luxe edition has a further 2 tracks). Roseanne, countered that, `Masterpiece is a very big word and you`d have to ask me again in 20 years, so I could look at the entire body of my work, but it is a career-defining record`.

"Etta`s Tune" was apparently inspired by an old friend, Marshall Grant and his wife, Etta. MG was the original bass player in the Tennessee Two. "When The Master Calls The Roll", is a narrative war ballad, which focuses on the South. "Money Road", is a thought-provoking and somewhat mysterious and disturbing track.

The remaining tracks are superbly produced, arranged and sung. Roseanne has never sounded better. This is her highest charting album, to date, coming in the Billboard Top 200 at number 11. Whilst not a CD you will play every day, like "Coal", by Kathy Mattea, is a must for any collection.

The CD cover, depicts Roseanne looking out over the Tallahatchie River, where a black teenager, Emmett Till was drowned, after being beaten and shot, for flirting with a white woman. Now we know what Bobbie Gentry was singing about in "Ode To Billie Joe".
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#1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 22 January 2014
There are two excellent reviews here already by DC Stolk and Red on Black with which I wholeheartedly agree. I only have a couple of small personal things to add.

I think this is a really good album. I liked it on first hearing but thought that there wasn't much to distinguish it from a lot of other pretty good stuff around at the moment. I was wrong. I've listened to it a lot since then and I think it has real quality. The songs are tuneful but harmonically quite original in places, and the lyrics have genuine meaning - it's certainly a lot more than just three chords and the truth. I also think the performances are excellent with lovely singing and a fine band. They are set off by really good arrangements and production: not too rich and glossy but perfectly judged to give the songs depth and atmosphere without submerging them in too much extraneous stuff.

I think this is an album which I will be playing for a long, long time. I'd suggest that you read DC Stolk's and RoB's reviews and then buy it and play it a lot. I think you'll like it.
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on 13 February 2014
This is such a fine record. It has the big numbers - Modern Blue, When the master calls the roll, Etta's Tune, 50,000 Watts - but it is an old fashioned long player. All of the tracks have their place and the story flows. I wouldn't skip a single track.

It is worthy of repeated listens. The arrangements and the playing are sublime. I can understand why Rosanne is so proud of this album.

There will continue to be much written about The River & The Thread this year - so why not get on board now and see what the fuss is about? And thanks to Uncut Magazine for flagging it up as one to watch out for.
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