Monday, December 10, 2012

"Seven Year Ache" by Rosanne Cash (1981)

View the Premise and Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl

Filed Between: Johnny Cash and David Cassidy (Previously Reviewed)

"Heartaches are heroes when their pockets are full."

Key Tracks:
Rainin' (Keith Sykes), Seven Year Ache (Rosanne Cash), Only Human (Keith Sykes)

Obvious Filler & Swings-and-Misses:
Blue Moon with Heartache (Rosanne Cash)

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately:
Recommended Listening (3/4 stars)

When Johnny Cash's daughter goes to cut a record, she starts with a big advantage and has a lot of favors she can call in.  And she does just that on "Seven Year Ache."

First of all, it's produced by Rodney Crowell. It absolutely drips with that Crowell sound which many people (myself included) really like and that worked so well for Emmylou Harris and Crowell himself.

And when she needs a harmonica on one track, she can just call up Willie Nelson's harp player to sit in.  And when she needs backup singers, she can enlist the likes of Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill and Emmylou Harris.  Oh yeah, and she gets the legendary Booker T. Jones for her organist.

So the deck was pretty well stacked to begin with.  But what makes this record work is not the support crew; Rosanne Cash is what makes this record work.  She wrote the best (and best known) track on the LP.  That is no small task, considering that "Seven Year Ache" has songs by the likes of Keith Sykes, Merle Haggard, Tom Petty and Rodney Crowell. 

Also, her delivery is spot-on, so much so that it rises above her stellar backing singers - except for Emmylou Harris; that's a battle I have never heard anybody win.  (Seriously, if I could get Emmylou Harris to sing backup for me, I would just shut the hell up and let her do the song.) 

"Seven Year Ache" is proof that it doesn't matter how good the production is, true success always comes down to the person (or persons) doing the heavy lifting.

So, is it an album?  Yes.  It hits on all the great top-40 country tropes of the time without ever sounding derivative.  "Seven Year Ache" always feels like it is on the leading rather than the trailing edge.

Up next, we stay in 1981 with "Freeze Frame" by The J. Geils Band.  Na na n-na na na!

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