10 Song Demo

by: Rosanne Cash

Despite its title, 10 Song Demo isn't really a demo tape, but it is what the title suggests -- a stripped-down, direct collection of songs (for the record, there are 11 songs, not ten). Conceptually, it is a brilliant way to signal that Rosanne Cash has severed ties with Nashville, as well as begun her contract with Capitol Records. However, the album doesn't completely work. Essentially, 10 Song Demo is an official statement from Cash that she is no longer strictly a country singer, but an all-around singer/songwriter. Of course, she has always bent the rules of country music, so this isn't a big departure as far as songwriting goes. Musically, however, the spare, simple arrangements lack all of the country and pop production flourishes that marked her last two albums. Though it initially sounds fine, there isn't much variation to the music, and her melodies are frequently uncompelling. That can't be said of her lyrics -- they are as cutting, emotional, and affecting as they have been, and they are the main reason for listening to 10 Song Demo. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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