Fortunately Cash has overcome the physical problems that left her unable to sing for 2½ years. Her voice sounds fine, as vigorous and vibrant as ever. Unfortunately, in the 10 years since her last studio album, she has started to take herself very seriously. So this disc—which was produced by Cash's husband of eight years, John Leventhal—has none of the playfulness of, say, her witty 1981 hit "Seven Year Ache." Instead the CD features such ponderous cuts as "Western Wall," probably the first country song about the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and the lament "Beautiful Pain," written for Cash by Craig Northey of the Canadian band the Odds.
At least "Hope Against Hope," which was cowritten by Jakob Dylan, adds a tinge of enthusiasm. So too does the always thrilling voice of Cash's dad, Johnny, who, despite being seriously ill, added a characteristically moving vocal to "September When It Comes." In the end, though, there isn't much to enjoy on this musical journey.