Rosanne Cash is a powerful voice in country music. Last year, following the mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas that killed 59 people, Cash penned an essay for The New York Times rallying for stronger gun laws and action from musicians in the country community. “I’ve been a gun control activist for 20 years,” she wrote. Indeed, Cash’s voice has long a necessary one among the traditionally conservative and/or politically hushed body of fans and artists who exist at Nashville’s countrified core.
However, on her new album She Remembers Everything, the follow-up to 2013’s acclaimed The River & The Thread, Cash is more concerned with the personal than the political. More than anything, she seems to wish comfort upon her listener; the songs envelop you in simple chords and caring words. On She Remembers Everything, Cash seeks to understand—not only herself, but those around her—and how best to usher in peace despite prevailing tumult.
Cash, like her father Johnny before her, is a razorsharp lyricist. One such lyrical gem is found in “The Undiscovered Country,” a brisky Americana ramble packed with folksy metaphors that takes pleasure in what we don’t understand about ourselves—and others: “All because I’m thankful / for the things we never planned / the undiscovered country / in every woman, every man.”
Though Cash wields a powerful pen, she falters on “8 Gods of Harlem,” which although featuring solid appearances by Elvis Costello and Kris Kristofferson, is a somewhat uninteresting valley surrounded by several mid-album peaks. The following track, “Rabbit Hole,” however, is a summit, a seeking track yearning for some still “relief” in the midst of today’s perpetual swarm. Cash later rocks out on “Not Many Miles To Go,” a rootsy rock tune grounded in gratitude—thankfulness in growing older, even if it’s not always comfortable, and for the passing of time well spent: “I stood beside you through the blast / I thought we might never last / now look how we shine, my dear / like diamonds in the sun.”
“Everyone But Me,” another single and an emotional ballad, already feels like a classic. Cash exposes her soul to her deceased parents (or perhaps to some other symbolic figures) over gentle piano, singing, “Mother and Father / Now that you’re gone / it’s not nearly long enough / still it seems too long.” The song has a somber Sunday-morning-mood to it, like a hymn carefully selected to soundtrack a church service following a tragedy. Again, Cash is searching, this time for herself. “I’m not enough,” she sings. “Then too much.”
Often using biblical imagery and lyrical metaphors, Cash creates in this album something of an oasis. She speaks on “Crossing To Jerusalem” of the day when “We’ll be crossing to Jerusalem / with nothing but our love,” a sentiment that’s sure to fit in snugly alongside the warm, hopeful sentiments soon emerging with the holiday season. Though Cash refrains from direct political speech on this record, she offers solace amid the political unrest, choosing to focus on personal connection rather than polarization as we near the end of a chaotic, divisive year.