"The album plays like a cohesive lost gem": Johnny Cash's buried treasure shines on eloquent Songwriter album

Rediscovered songs from the late Man In Black, polished up by his son and old band

Johnny Cash - Songwriter cover art
(Image: © Mercury Nashville / UME)

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Prior to Johnny Cash’s renaissance with the American series, he’d been all but discarded by the music industry in the early 90s. Without a record label, in 1993 Cash tenaciously reverted to what he did best, entering Nashville’s LSI studios to demo a collection of his own compositions. 

After the recordings were rediscovered three decades later by son John Carter Cash (who also co-produced), Cash’s voice and acoustic guitar have been fleshed out with accompaniment from former bandmates Marty Stuart (guitar) and Dave Roe (bass), setting Cash’s Mount Rushmore-sized vocal presence in roots-oriented arrangements. 

Johnny Cash - Hello Out There (Official Music Video) - YouTube Johnny Cash - Hello Out There (Official Music Video) - YouTube
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By placing the emphasis on Cash’s then-overlooked songwriting flair, the album plays like a cohesive lost gem. 

Hello Out There’s blend of sharp wit and spirituality, the addiction-themed Like A Soldier’s upbeat nod to his Sun Records-era sound, and schmaltz-free ballad I Love You Tonight reaffirm Cash’s unique musical personality and gift for plain-spoken eloquence.

Rich Davenport

Rich Davenport is a music journalist, stand-up comedian and musician, and has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock since 2016