At every level, Rules of Travel
distinguishes itself. A latecomer to songwriting, Rosanne Cash
delivers plenty of compelling material, fully comparable in quality to the album's two non-original cuts. She comes up with fresh and intriguing chord changes to end verses and choruses on the title track, and images whose rugged eloquence perfectly fits the early-morning mumble of Steve Earle
on "I'll Change for You." On "September When It Comes," she switches to a more homespun, folkloric imagery that suits her father's weathered, timeless rumble. The production values change very subtly according to what best suits each song, from the Wallflowers
-oriented roots rock saunter of "Hope Against Hope" to the shadowy urban swing of "Will You Remember Me" to the stark acoustic setting of "Western Wall." Though her voice is hardly the most impressive instrument in country music, Cash
knows how to compensate by using an understated approach to more quietly highlight the essence of a song. Given the quality of what she gives herself to work with on Rules of Travel
, it's a method that can't miss.