At the foundation of Cash’s life and music-making was his spiritual fervor, ingrained in him from an early age. His devotion to gospel music stayed with him throughout his career, from one of his earliest albums (1959’s Hymns with Johnny Cash) through one of his very last (2003’s posthumous My Mother’s Hymn Book). Late in life, The Man in Black even recorded the entire New Testament as a spoken-word multi-CD set. Columbia/Legacy’s fourth installment of Cash’s Bootleg Series is entirely devoted to this aspect of the Cash canon, and as such, The Soul of Truth (88697 98538 2, 2012) may be the most raw, personal entry in the series yet.
Vic Anesini has remastered each track for splendid sound, and essays are provided by John Carter Cash and producer Gregg Geller. This release is an auspicious start for sure, illuminating an aspect of the artist that’s often overlooked in favor of his outlaw persona. And the artist likely understood why the image of the aggressive loner “Man in Black” had come to define him to many. Johnny Cash knew all too well what it meant to simply be human, and he was never afraid of expressing that condition in song, with all its manifold contradictions.
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