Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. 100
    When a tune falls into the jurisdiction of the venerable country-folk troubadour, the accumulated details of any previous readings or associations are stripped away, and its core brilliantly revealed.
  2. Though the Man in Black has rarely sounded blacker, producer Rick Rubin frames that deep sea voice with harmonies and churchly organs, making for a dark angel beauty of an album that's austere but welcoming.
  3. "Solitary Man" may lack the immediate impact of its predecessors but is no less a masterpiece.
  4. 90
    Greying at the edges, its tremor more pronounced, his voice is sober, honest, defiant. And it turns rock songs into something that sounds as old as the hills.
  5. Though the covers on American III will attract the majority of listener attention, Cash’s own material steals the show.
  6. While some critics take issue with Rubin's underproduction, none of the songs on American III require ornate instrumentation. Whether they've been fluffed up or stripped raw, at the core of each is a compelling statement from one of our greatest humanists.
  7. 80
    So at 68 he's still able to churn out songs that are immediately likable, if not instantly classic. For a man who's seemingly suffered from every ailment imaginable in the past few years, his signature baritone remains as strong and expressive as ever, too.
  8. All in all, as resonant and dignified a covers album as you'll ever hear.
  9. If one wanted to quibble, one could say that the Cash-Rubin collaboration is starting to feel just a little formulaic.... yet Cash continually surprises with his ability to completely inhabit material by writers much younger than him.
  10. Mostly downbeat, the album feels, at times, as if it were created beneath a black cloud.
  11. The results on "Solitary Man" are mixed, leaning at times to inadvertent novelty.
  12. Like his two previous studio albums, Solitary Man is sparsely produced by Rick Rubin, and continues the themes of love, faith, and loneliness that their previous collaborations have chillingly embraced.
  13. The onus here lies on the production... Rick Rubin's work is too timid; mostly, the shy combos of guitar, fiddle and accordion, or Benmont Tench's subliminal contributions on keyboards, make up the kind of severe meal that one is forced to think of as "tasteful."
  14. I'm assuming the problems began when Rubin presented Cash with a cache of songs to choose from. From there, Rubin's production only makes a bad situation worse, putting Cash's dusty, reverbless voice -- which is beginning to show its frailties -- unnaturally in your face.... But if you can wade through the chaff, it's Cash's originals that save the disc.
  15. Like Neil Young's Silver And Gold, it feels like a thematically empty, knockabout place-holder. American Recordings, one of Cash's towering classics, was all devotion and doubt, a brilliant, raw-boned meditation on redemption and death. A loose, flat set of odds and ends, Solitary Man is merely a minor but endearing record from a man who seems to know he's given more than enough.
User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 7 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Jul 26, 2012
    8
    Outside of Johnny Cash, I'm not really into Country Music , but I think he transcends the genre. His "American" project is a good test of the concept "Is it the song or the singer?". The argument being if a song is a classic, it's very hard to mess it up. Cash can never be accused of messing these up. In fact it could be argued he brings the quality some of these songs into sharp focus with stripped down versions, with all studio trickery and effects stripped away, often all your left with are the lyrics and the chords. Although I prefer American IV, American III is quite good overall. There are a few questionable inclusions here but the high points on this record are in my view, up with the high points of his career. His version of U2's "One" and Nick Caves "The Mercy Seat" are sublime. Full Review »
  2. Sep 19, 2011
    10
    An 8.3? An 8.3!? You'd think that Johnny Cash doing us a service by playing more of his music in his condition would merit some goddamn appreciation. Instead, all I see is a disappointing, suburban, uptight, **** of a douche score. Full Review »