Rules of Travel

The intelligence and grace of Rosanne Cash has been largely absent of late on the country landscape, and for that reason alone, new material from her is welcome.

The intelligence and grace of Rosanne Cash has been largely absent of late on the country landscape, and for that reason alone, new material from her is welcome. Mature and impeccably produced by Cash's husband, John Leventhal, Rules of Travel revels in inspired musicianship and melodic, well-written songs. The gently swaying "Beautiful Pain" (featuring Sheryl Crow) is spare and deceptively gorgeous, and "Forty Four Stories" is insistent and omniscient, while the piercing title cut is propelled by haunting keyboards and slide guitars. Steve Earle guests on the reverb-drenched, vaguely tropical "I'll Change for You," and Cash's legendary father appears in touching fashion on a classic-sounding "September When It Comes," which, with "Will You Remember Me?" and "Western Wall" own a timeless quality. Subdued guitars feature on a passionate "Hope Against Hope." The feel of the stylish "Closer Than I Appear" evokes past Cash swagger, and "Last Stop Before Home" is resolute and bittersweet. A complete success.—RW