Various: the Unbroken Circle: the Musical Heritage of the Carter Family

Various: the Unbroken Circle: the Musical Heritage of the Carter FamilyThis 15-song collection is one of the most loving tribute albums I've ever heard, largely due to the participation of members of the extended Carter family. There are posthumous pieces by both Johnny Cash ("Engine One-Forty-Three" aka "The FFV") and June Carter Cash ("Hold Fast to the Right"). John's daughter Rosanne Cash offers ("The Winding Stream"). AP and Sara Carter's kids Janette and Joe Carter do "Little Moses." Others participating are all on their A game. George Jones' spirited "Worried Man Blues" starts the set with brio. Sheryl Crow's "No Depression in Heaven," Emarylou Harris with the Peasall Sisters (the little girl trio from O Brother Where Art Thou) striking "On the Sea of Galilee" and Marty Stuart's brooding "Never Let the Devil Get the Upper Hand On You" are all aces. Norman and Nancy Blake with Tim O'Brien, the Whites with Ricky Skaggs, John Prine, Willie Nelson, Shawn Colvin with Earl and Randy Scruggs and the Del McCoury Band all continue at the same level of excellence. Plus, there's the finale on which Kris Kristofferson and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band share "Gold Watch and Chain."

John and June's son John Carter Cash produced the set and wrote illuminating liner notes. Throughout the album you can feel the performers pouring their hearts into the performances, all rendered with equal measures of love and respect One endearing subtlety is how frequently the Carter Family's signature Autoharp sound is part of the arrangements lending added authenticity. An outstanding album.--MT