American II: Unchained
No one understood the power of Johnny Cash's music better than Rick Rubin. As Cash's final producer, Rubin directed Cash's music back to the minimalist, muscular perfection of the Tennessee Two and inspired him to cover songs from the widest gamut imaginable. Thanks to Rubin, Cash did not go gently. His last recorded work, trademarked by a three-note crag of a voice grown even wearier with age, has a majesty that cannot be faked. Whether Cash is singing Tom Petty's "Southern Accents" (and whose Heartbreakers back Cash on this album), Soundgarden's "Rusty Cage" or the old country standard "The Kneeling Drunkard's Plea," the material takes on a uniformity of vision. Music once thought to be country or folk or hard rock becomes American music when sung Cash.