Personal File

*** ½

Nearly three years after his death, Johnny Cash’s archives continue to bring forth new revelations and shed new light on the Man in Black. Personal File, a two-CD collection of 1970s- and ’80s-vintage private recordings, demonstrates that Johnny knew full well the value of a stripped-down, solo acoustic approach 20 years before returning to relevancy in much the same manner on 1994’s landmark American Recordings. The dozens of traditional and gospel songs Johnny runs through on Personal File can get repetitive, and his spoken introductions are oddly stagy. But make no mistake, there are riches aplenty among these long-forgotten recordings.

—Chris Neal

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