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Black Cadillac

Black Cadillac

4.6 5
by Rosanne Cash

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Alternately lashing out and retreating to melancholy introspection, the songs on Black Cadillac constitute Rosanne Cash's most challenging music to date. With production evenly divided between rock-oriented sessions with Bill Bottrell (Sheryl Crow, Shelby Lynne) and more intimate meditations with John Leventhal, the album finds Cash working through two


Alternately lashing out and retreating to melancholy introspection, the songs on Black Cadillac constitute Rosanne Cash's most challenging music to date. With production evenly divided between rock-oriented sessions with Bill Bottrell (Sheryl Crow, Shelby Lynne) and more intimate meditations with John Leventhal, the album finds Cash working through two traumatic years in which she lost her natural parents and her stepmother. Healing has not come any easier than answers to the big questions she asks of God and of herself. Whether she's venting her rage at the unfairness of it all in a razor-edged, rock-fueled missive such as "Burn Down This Town" or puzzling over the persistence and pain of memory in a poignant, cabaret-intimate ballad for piano and guitar, "The World Unseen," Cash is always trying to find her balance. "Someone tell me how to live / Now that we must live apart," she demands in the terse, edgy "Like Fugitives," in which she also excoriates the church and lawyers for their spiritual and monetary rapaciousness. "Dreams are not my home," she cries out in the driving, relentless rocker of the same name. When she makes a mute exit, with "0.71" -- 71 seconds of silence, one for each year of her natural parents' lives -- nothing has been resolved, answers beg more questions, and everything's up for grabs. It's a turbulent ride, but one well worth taking.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
In the 22 months that passed between the release of Rosanne Cash's wonderfully articulated Rules of Travel and Black Cadillac, she became an orphan. She lost her stepmother, June Carter Cash, in May of 2003; her father, Johnny, passed away in September of that same year; and in May of 2005, her mother, Vivian Liberto Cash Distin, left this world as well. According to Cash, she began writing the songs for Black Cadillac in spring 2003 and ended in spring 2005. She began recording in November 2004. In other words, the album is the aural documentation of a process of grief, loss, and acceptance. And though her family was not the typical American family, this set is universal in its concepts. Certainly, it is an elegy; her father's presence is everywhere here. It is also more than that; it is a reckoning, with memory, anger, love, joy, grief, pain, and resolve. The set opens with Johnny's disembodied voice calling her: "Rosanne, c'mon." And the title track kicks into gear with a rumbling bass, a drum kit, and guitars emerging sparsely, surrounding her voice as she sings, "It was a black Cadillac/That drove you away...Now one of us gets to go to heaven/While one has to stay here in hell." The guitars explode into the mix, carrying the refrain, breaking open not only the tune, but her heart: "It was a black Cadillac/Like the one you used to drive/You were always rollin'/But the wheels burnt up your life/It's a black heart of pain I'm wearin'/That suits me just fine/'Cause there was nothin' I could do for you/While you were still alive." These lyrics, the swirling six strings, a funky Fender Rhodes, the crashing of drums, and the distant, tinny horns quoting their place in "Ring of Fire," as the track ends, while it opens up the focus of the rest of the disc -- it becomes the mission statement for the heart-rendering that follows. Cash has a history of searing honesty; Interiors and The Wheel are just two examples. But Black Cadillac engages it in a different way. She disguises nothing. There are no extended painterly metaphors. These are open and direct songs without self-pity, without artifice. Writing about her parents, she expresses regret, but doesn't ask for more time; there is only the open, unbowed humility of gratitude and the weight and burden of history, and experience that results in wisdom. In "I Was Watching You," she recounts her history from youth to age 50 with Johnny, and amid the atmospheric arrangements, she states plaintively, "Long after life/There is love." It's the crack in the record that becomes the catalyst for her search for meaning after these experiences. There are rockers, too, such as "Burn This Town Down," which struts its country, rock, and roots simultaneously. Yet it's all beside the point. From "God Is in the Roses," a nearly straight-up country tune that re-engages faith in God not as a concept, but as a place for the soul to find solace and rest in life's most difficult occurrences, the question of faith looms large on Black Cadillac. In "World Without Sound" she states, "I wish I was a Christian/And knew what to believe/I could learn a lot of rules/To put my mind at ease." "Like Fugitives" indicts religion -- and a few other things -- to a slippery trip-hop rhythm track and expresses anger purely and simply. The rocking "Dreams Are Not My Home" feels like it were written for Dire Straits. The poetic lyric is offered authoritatively against acoustic and electric guitars. This tune is a manifesto. Its refrain digs against the illusions of the past and the many temptations to escape the difficult present: "I want to live in the real world/I want to act like a real girl/I want to know I'm not alone/And that dreams are not my home." The bluesy country-rock in "House on the Lake" (referring to the old Cash home in Hendersonville, TN) evokes memory and the notion of place as a metaphor for passage and return. The guitars turn and wind around mandolin passages that underscore the determined declaration in Cash's voice. Cash has always been a pioneer and experimented freely. Since the release of 1990's Interiors, she has distanced herself -- on records -- from her family's country roots; in the process, she's carved a small niche in the nebulous adult alternative "genre." Black Cadillac shows the songwriter coming full circle without compromise. Her signature brand of country music has become part of her mix again. She has always employed rock and pop sounds even on her early outings. Cash embraces country here as a part of the sonic tapestry that includes every kind of music she's interested in. This set was recorded in Los Angeles with Bill Botrell (the odd numbered cuts) and in New York with husband-producer John Leventhal (the even numbered ones), and it's an album that CMT and even country radio can warm to. (This is interesting, because in 2006 the music the genre consciously employs and strives to include is something Cash helped to pioneer as far back as the 1980s.) This album is extraordinary. It is brave, difficult, and honest. It is utterly moving and beautiful. Because it so successfully marries all of her strengths as a songwriter, singer, and musician, Black Cadillac may be the crowning achievement of her career thus far.
Rolling Stone - David Fricke
Cash's best and darkest [record] since the intimate noir of 1990's Interiors.
Entertainment Weekly - Will Hermes
The best of Cash's Black Cadillac compositions... [turn] her healing process into great art. (B+)

Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Rosanne Cash   Primary Artist,Vocals
Bruce Fowler   Trombone
Benmont Tench   Organ,Piano,Background Vocals,Choir, Chorus,Wurlitzer
Bill Bottrell   Acoustic Guitar,Bouzouki,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals,Choir, Chorus,12-string Guitar,Mandocello,E-bow
Jose Hernandez   Trumpet
John Leventhal   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Dobro,Mandolin,Percussion,Piano,Electric Guitar,Keyboards,Background Vocals,12-string Guitar,Various
Shawn Pelton   Drums
Michael Rhodes   Bass
Catherine Russell   Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Albert Wing   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Kevin Breit   Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin
Charlie Drayton   Drums
Dan Schwartz   Bass,Background Vocals,Choir, Chorus
Brian Macleod   Drums,Background Vocals,Choir, Chorus

Technical Credits

Rosanne Cash   Composer,Liner Notes,Executive Producer
Bill Bottrell   Producer,Audio Production
Kevin Killen   Engineer
John Leventhal   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Julian Raymond   Executive Producer
Eric Roinestad   Art Direction
Mimi Parker   Engineer
Mary Fagot   Art Direction
Cheryl Kaplan   Producer

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Black Cadillac 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love classical, blues, jazz, alternative, but have never listened to what is considered country. This album is, however, one of the best I have purchased in a long, long time. Reminded me of a more upbeat "Cowboy Junkies". Beautiful melody, composition and lyrics. Thank you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
But, don't take that line wrong. Though not as accessible as the excellent yet basically overlooked Rules of Travel (2004), it is not the downer it could have been based on it's subject matter (saying goodbye to three parents). The music itself is excellent though it could have used one or two more uptempo songs. Overall, though, one of her best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought Black Cadillac the day it came out, a big fan. Listened to it nonstop for a couple weeks,then put it away. I can still hear the songs in my head. I Was Watching You, Black Cadillac and Burn Down This House especially. All different, all beautiful in different ways, all sucking you in and sucking me back. I'll play it again tomorrow and thse songs will come home to my heart. I love this record.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have never bought a Rosanne Cash album until this one and am total admiration of her voice and this awesome CD. Her voice is sultry and sexy and completely engulfing!! you will definatley not be disappointed if you buy this CD.
SirBob More than 1 year ago
This is a beautiful piece of work. You can feel the emotion put forth in each song by Roseanne after losing her Aunt. Mother, and Father all within 6 months in 2003. It is one you can put the CD in and play it from top to bottom.