JOHNNY CASH: FOREVER WORDS VARIOUS ARTISTS

This companion piece of sorts to 2016’s Johnny Cash: Forever Words book finds some of Americana’s most respected artists creating music to handwritten letters, poems and other documents unearthed after his 2003 death. Largely ballad-oriented set ranges from the raw, stripped down banjo and vocals of Kacey Musgraves with husband Ruston Kelly (‘To June This Morning’) to the radio-ready slickness of Brad Paisley (‘Gold All Over the Ground’), the pure religious bluegrass of Dailey & Vincent’s ‘He Bore it All For Me’ and T-Bone Burnett’s swampy rocking ‘Jellico Coal Man.’ Like the notoriously multi-genre Cash, the approaches vary wildly making for an eclectic and generally satisfying set. Jamey Johnson brings in somber horns for his closing ‘Spirit Rider,’ John Mellencamp takes a page from his acoustic rocking for the peppy fiddle and harmonica driven ‘Them Double Blues, and two of Johnny’s daughters are also on board with Rosanne’s hushed, elegiac ‘The Walking Wounded’ and Carlene Carter’s similarly melancholy ‘June’s Sundown,’ the latter a lovely nostalgic tribute to her mother.