Personal File

The Cash collections keep comin'. But Personal File is unique: two discs of standards and obscurities, most of them unreleased by the man in any form, performed on home recordings between the mid-Seventies and the early Eighties with just voice and acoustic guitar. Johnny Cash's intent was unclear: The tapes were marked "Personal File," but some may have been for an LP he planned years before his mostly unplugged 1994 comeback, American Recordings. Disc One includes vivid (and some typically grim) story-songs, Disc Two hymns and spirituals; both feature his engaging between-song commentary. Parts of the second disc may be too come-to-Jesus for some. But the package is a gift -- a remarkably intimate portrait of the artist as a middle-aged man, alone in his home, telling tales and strumming lives with his fingers.

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