Often, "lost" albums are lost for good reason; the musician(s) or labels didn't believe in the music enough to release them. And considering that the glossy 80s weren't a particularly fruitful time for old-school outlaw country musician Johnny Cash, there's even more reason to be leery of Out Among The Stars.
But this posthumous album is wonderful. Shelved in the 80s after Columbia dropped Cash, it's marvellously quaint in spite of the involvement of countrypolitan producer Bill Sherrill. Arrangements are unfussy - at least by today's standards - and Cash's rich, familiar baritone is in fine shape. (Apparently, most of the vocals were done in one take.)
Then there's the honest, compassionate storytelling. In the title track, a down-on-his-luck young man robs a store at gunpoint and faces the consequences. The upfront sadness of She Used To Love Me A Lot, evident in the title alone, cuts like a knife. Plus rough-and-reedy-voiced June Carter Cash lends hillbilly edge to a light-hearted duet or two.
Top track: She Used To Love Me A Lot