AMERICAN IV: THE MAN WHO COMES AROUND
This takes balls: a 70-year-old man performing acoustic versions of such loathsome '90s hits as Depeche Mode's “Personal Jesus” and Nine Inch Nails' “Hurt.” No joke. Johnny Cash really covers these songs, as well as such classic tunes as “In My Life,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Desperado.” And he does it with such power and honesty that he's made some of the most moving music I've heard this year. Cash's age actually helps him render the comparatively unsubtle pain of young rockers into something exquisite; his famously deep voice cracks into something frail, making these songs all the more vulnerable and wounded. And let's credit his generations of experience, too—Cash and his acoustic band hold the keys to unearthing a bone-chilling loneliness and desperation of which most youngsters can barely conceive. Cash saves the best for last, as well—I'm glad this album ends with the '40s standard “We'll Meet Again.” It's a beautiful panacea for one sublimely dark night of the soul.