A couple of weeks ago I was in a record shop (if they can still be called by that rather outdated name) that I hadn’t been in for some time – Fopp on Byers Road for those who know Glasgow.
As there was a sale on, I just had to pick up a few CDs, and my purchases included Roseanne Cash’s The List. I remembered hearing about the album when it was released towards the end of last year, but had just never got around to picking it up. And I am very glad that I have now managed to rectify that mistake.
The name of the album comes from a list of essential songs given to Roseanne by her father (y’all know who that is, right?) on a tour bus back in 1973. Keen to ensure that his eighteen year daughter understood her musical heritage, J R Cash gave her a list of 100 essential songs that she simply had to know.
‘I can still see him, pensive, with his pencil raised above his legal pad, considering which songs would make the List. It was a list to educate me, to tell me about my Southern roots and my American history, about my legacy,’ says Roseanne in the linear notes.
35 years later she selected a dozen songs from the List to form an album full of reflection and history, yet with a very contemporary feel to it. And just to add to the appeal, she is joined in duets by some big musical names: Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Jeff Tweedy and Rufus Wainwright.
There is not a bad track on the album, although stand out are Sea of Heartbreak (with Springsteen), Dylan’s Girl From the North Country and a stunning Long Black Veil (with Tweedy).
With a voice that has echoes of both country and rock, Roseanne Cash interprets these American standards in a fresh and modern manner to produce an album of real quality. It is perhaps her best vocal work to date.
This is an album that is well worth spending a few pounds (or dollars, euros, whatever) to purchase, or download if that’s your preference. Trust me, you won’t regret it.