For her first full-length foray into country music, Ana Cristina Cash and her husband, producer John Carter Cash, cut 14 new songs on sacred ground within the genre: the Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee. More importantly, Cash followed her late father-in-law Johnny Cash's lead in a more powerful way by writing lyrics that face serious issues head-on.
Cash's new album Shine arrives April 24 and includes such emotional story-songs as "Fixed to Fall," which premieres today via Wide Open Country.
Per press materials, "Fixed to Fall" "tells the story of a husband leaving his family behind for the military. It could also be interpreted as the pieces that are left behind when a family member or close friend passes."
It's one of the first fruits of Cash's decision to take advantage of local resources in Nashville and make an honest to goodness country record like the ones she grew up hearing in Miami, Florida. It's also a change in musical direction, but it didn't come out of nowhere. Indeed, she never lost interest in country music while appearing on the Spanish language variety show Sabado Gigante at age 6 or after signing as a teenager to Sony Music's Latin Division.
"I'm obsessed with country songs," Cash says. "I remember growing up as a little girl and really admiring Dolly and Loretta Lynn and Patsy and the soaring vocals and the stories the songs tell. You can get a lot told in country songs versus some other (types of) songs."
Other songs dealing with serious issues include "Broken Roses," a co-write between Cash, her singer-songwriter husband, Bill Miller and Kevin Dunne that's paired with a chilling music video directed by David McClister.
"We wanted to capture the disintegration of a love relationship when substance abuse is involved," Cash says of the video. "It surrounds the subject of depression and essentially how it destroys lives. It's not a cheerful picture, but it's a real picture."
An even darker tale titled "Southern Roots" culls from the long history of murder ballads sang by women. Cash described it as the story of "an abused woman taking matters into her own hands and killing her husband or partner."
By writing about real life pain and sorrow, Cash stays true to "three chords and the truth" while also raising awareness for Campaign to Change Direction, World Mental Health Day and other services and events for those struggling with mental health issues or addiction.
"I'm not afraid to tackle different subjects," she adds. "I always felt as a musician that if I was going to make music, I wanted it to be with a purpose."
It's not all serious business on Shine, with other noteworthy tracks including the anti-snooty "Hey Hipster," the Bonnie and Clyde-style tale of runaway lovers "Renegade Rose" and "Tug of War," which Cash describes as a "bitch slapping song" which she went on to compare to Parton's "Jolene" and Brandy and Monica's "The Boy is Mine."
Cash's exploration of country music on her first full-length English language album does not mean she's moving far from the other sounds she learned to love from her Cuban parents. Especially not after a recent brush of inspiration she shared with over 100 million others.
"I was pretty excited when I saw the Super Bowl," Cash says. "I'm a mother, as well, and I saw two women over 40, rocking it with two kids apiece and really making stuff happen. It gave me hope."
'Shine' Track Listing
"Tough Love Woman"
"Brand New Pair of Shoes"
"Tug of War"
"Seminole Wind" (John Anderson cover)
"Fixed to Fall"
"Where the Muscadine Grows"
"The Cost of Love"