These were just a few of the influences that led to the writing of the album for which Cash and Leventhal wrote all the songs. Leventhal also produced and played many of the instruments. The album evokes images of the Southern landscape and captures a wide cast of characters - a New Deal farmer from Arkansas, a soldier off to fight in the Civil War and a couple from Mobile, Alabama.
The musical styles on the album reflect the South ranging from Appalachian folk, country, gospel and delta blues. It is hard to pick highlights as there is not a bad track on the album but I particularly liked The Sunken Lands, Etta’s Tune, Tell Heaven, World Of Strange Design and When The Master Calls The Roll. The latter features a choir of Amy Helm, Kris Kristofferson, Tony Joe White, John Prine and Rodney Crowell. It was Crowell, along with Leventhal, who wrote the original lyrics intending to give it to Emmylou Harris. With Cash’s son researching the Civil War she approached Crowell about rewriting the lyrics to craft a Civil War ballad.
The River & The Thread is a beautiful and haunting collection of songs and is one of her finest works, which is saying something when you consider the quality of her previous albums.
The standard CD, Deluxe Edition and vinyl issue are all available from the 'Other Artists' category at the Johnny Cash Fanzine Store.