Rosanne Cash has long been the most modern of country music’s female luminaries. From the outset of her career in 1980, her clothes were hip, her lyrics progressive and complex, and her music an intense form of hard-edged romanticism that owed as much to rock and pop as it did to country. And never has her music been as intellectually ambitious as it is on her current album, Interiors, a dark record that takes her quest for personal truth to new levels of vulnerability. Now comes the video of her current acoustic concert tour, shot in shadowy black and white to mirror the mood of the album.
Interiors Live is not for every country music fan. Despite an occasional stab at humor and the inclusion of a sassy new tune, ”Road Widow,” the ambience here is depressingly somber. But this document is also invigorating in its honesty, particularly as Cash details the conflicts within her marriage to singer Rodney Crowell, who joins her on stage for two songs. Everything is up close and personal, almost voyeuristic: Director Bill Pope takes the camera off Cash and her two virtuoso musicians, guitarist Steuart Smith and bassist Jim Hanson, only once in 80 minutes.
Cash finally leads the audience out of the ”dark tunnel” she refers to several times, but the most exhilarating thing about this gutsy, powerful performance is how comfortable Cash — who’s long suffered from paralyzing stage fright — is at exposing the raw emotion of one woman’s psychological trip to hell and back.