Album: June Carter Cash

Wildwood Flower, Dualtone
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June Carter Cash's death, just four months before that of her husband, Johnny Cash, in effect laid to rest an entire era of American traditional music. Since the Twenties, The Carter Family had been the greatest dynasty of country music. The founding patriarch A P Carter was a prolific songwriter, and June's swansong album draws heavily on his output, including such standards as the title track and "Keep on the Sunny Side" - though oddly, omitting her own most famous composition, "Ring of Fire", a huge hit for her future spouse. Johnny duets on several tracks here, the frailty of their voices lending a moving authenticity to songs such as "... Sunny Side" and "Road to Kaintuck", a slice of old western history sketching out a scene from the life of Daniel Boone. As so often with traditional music, one's constantly surprised by the echoes of other songs, by the way that "Kneeling Drunkard's Plea", for instance, shares its tune with "We Shall Not Be Moved" - and isn't that the melody to "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" in "Storms are on the Ocean"? Cementing the album's status as historical document are snatches of old Carter broadcasts emphasising the family's hillbilly roots - most memorably, little June's plug for The Southern Planet magazine, with its cover picture of "a tow-headed farm boy posing with two beautiful sheep". How country is that?