It can’t be easy to be the daughter of a legend, with all the pressure and scrutiny that entails. On the other hand, you can gain a certain kind of instant cred if you enter the music business and your dad is Johnny Cash. All things considered, Rosanne Cash seems to have managed a balancing act that allowed for a legitimate singing career and also an interesting, sophisticated and full personal life.

In Composed, Cash recounts her life, which (at 55) is hardly near its end, though in pop music today she is considered something of an elder stateswoman—a respected artist who in her day carved out a comfortable niche in country crossover and continued to keep the Cash name front and center even as her dad was in decline.

As Cash makes clear, she was really a child of the Beatles, and growing up mainly in California, she was shaped by her parents’ divorce. Later, she claimed her birthright as the writing/performing daughter of the iconic Cash, though one gets the feeling here that Rosanne was more seduced by the biz and available opportunity than driven by the inspiration of a committed artist. She wrote and sang hits, recorded good albums, got married and divorced, had children, and in later years assumed a matriarchal presence as kith and kin died off, especially her father and his wife, June Carter Cash.

Cash includes the text of her eulogies for both here, and she proves to be a sensitive and more than competent prose stylist in the general coverage of her privileged life. She also indulges a strange predilection for describing her clothing, invoking such names as Prada and Yohji Yamamoto. That kind of attention to superficial detail seems out of place for a woman who appears so intent on being taken seriously, but perhaps fashionistas will relate.

Cash doesn’t hang her hat in laid-back Nashville. Both Los Angeles and New York City have been her most comfortable stomping grounds for years, and her current life in Gotham is more textured and intellectual than Music City could probably offer her. She has had some recent physical travails (including brain surgery in 2007) but is ever rebounding, and Composed serves as testament to a thoughtful lady who traveled country roads to arrive at big-city peace of mind.

 

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