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Rosanne Cash Gets Personal in KCRW's Apogee Session and on Latest Album

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On Thursday night, LAist was invited to KCRW’s first Apogee Session of the year with music scion Rosanne Cash, who performed an intimate acoustic set at Apogee Studios in Santa Monica with songs from her new album The River and the Thread, out today.

Although she’d played The Troubadour the night before, her voice was crystalline, as was the musicianship by producer, collaborator and husband John Leventhal. (His mastery of the acoustic guitar would put most wgwg to shame.)

As a listener, it’s hard not to look and listen for her father, Johnny Cash, in her music, which crosses many genres, from country to folk to Americana, Gospel, blues and rock. And with this latest release—her first in four years—Cash embraces her family’s history and roots, something she told the audience she’d run from for years.

It was only fitting, then, that she began her set with “Modern Blue,” with the opening lyrics: “I went to Barcelona on the midnight train / I walked the streets of Paris in the pouring rain /I flew across and island in the Northern Sea / And I ended up in Memphis, Tennessee.”

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Throughout the evening, Cash talked about her travels through the South and re-visiting parts of Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas, including blues legend Robert Johnson’s grave, Emmett Till’s hometown and the nearby Tallahatchie Bridge, in the album’s 11 tracks. The songs were all written by Cash and Leventhal, save one, co-written by Rodney Crowell, her ex-husband. (She joked about writing songs with her husband and ex, and told the audience about her “evolution” in order to get to that point.)The songs Cash played told stories from personal or historical perspectives. Her song “The Sunken Lands” was a little bit of both. She talked about how her father’s parents were desperately poor during The Great Depression, and as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, they were given a cottage, 40 acres and a mule in rural Arkansas. “And it saved their lives….” It was the “prettiest place they’d ever seen.”

While a mid-set interview with Chris Douridas didn’t happen (he was sick), Cash’s tales and insight to her new music was more than enough to satisfy the appreciative audience. While she’ll always be associated with her father’s legacy, her own 30-year career and The River and the Thread have proved that she can definitely hold her own—and then some.

The music sounded great throughout the night (and we bet that holding it at producer Bob Clearmountain’s studio has a lot to do with it), but because of a technical issue, they had to repeat the first two songs, a bonus treat for the audience. The set was recorded and will air during Morning Becomes Eclectic on KCRW on Thursday, Jan. 16.