American V: A Hundred Highways

These are the supposed “last” songs of the Rick Rubin-produced recordings made just before Cash’s death, but there will probably be one more release from the same sessions. As a kind of last testament, it’s powerful stuff: Life is tough, and God is really lurking out there. Love songs and moving-on songs, including several that allude to the final move, where sooner or later, God’s gonna cut you down, such as “Help Me,” “Like the 309” and “I’m Free From the Chain Gang Now.” He turns Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind” into a hesitant and faltering, aching lament. Cash sounds humble yet wise and delivers the material with a weary, direct resignation. It is a profoundly moving essay on conviction, release and acceptance, one that gains strength with repeated listenings.