The concept is a good one: a tribute to Johnny Cash, comprised of 20 different, relatively unknown artists singing 20 different Cash classics. This is essentially what Americana is, the new album released by Irregular Records. The end result, however, is somewhat disappointing, a musical hodge podge as bizarre as, well, Americana, and likewise not the sort of thing you'd want to take home.
The album does contain some refreshing interpretations of Cash's songs, while other interpretations do a decent job of simply imitating Cash's dry, soothing tones. Most of the renditions on the collection, however, are just plain random, running the gamut from the grunge rock/heavy metal chords of The Staggers' "Cry, Cry, Cry" to the zydeco twang of How's Bayou's "Johnny Yuma." The album simply jumps from one sort of sound to another with no transition, and the end result can only be called jarring. Americana also has its share of positively dreadful, not quite convincing singing, such as Remora's rendition of "Rock Island Line." Granted that these songs do show Cash's transcendence of musical genres which the album claims to bring. But none of it is an improvement on the genuine article; this is one album not really worth getting unless you're a diehard Cash fan who wants to see how far you can push the envelope.