Somewhere in the Stars followed by one year the wildly successful Seven Year Ache, Rosanne Cash's breakthrough record. Once again with husband Rodney Crowell in the producer's chair and acting as a full collaborator, Cash pushed the Nash Vegas envelope to the breaking point for the time. A listen to Shania Twain's Come on Over and Up! will point, in a winding manner, back to Somewhere in the Stars. Here are guitars ringing through with influences from Dire Straits to Graham Parker & the Rumour. Give a listen to Susanna Clark's "Oh, Yes I Can," and listen to Albert Lee's Mark Knopfler cop. Interestingly, Cash, while writing a great deal during this period, only recorded one of her own songs and co-wrote another with Crowell. The feel has British new wave, country, and L.A. rock blended into a seamless whole. Listen to the chug and tug of "Ain't No Money," written by Crowell, that opens the album. Linda Ronstadt in her prime could have cut this, but only Cash could bring the solid country gutbucket pout in her delivery.
The horn charts on "It Hasn't Happened Yet," a John Hiatt composition, are deep rooted in the Memphis soul tradition of Stax. Given Cash's voice, though, the track comes off at odds with traditions that have little in common except for being heartfelt articulations of the unspeakable. But the longing in Cash's voice stands at odds with the normally reserved slickness of Nash Vegas productions. Tom T. Hall's "That's How I Got to Memphis" feels out of place here, with its slim production and relatively straight country feel, but Cash doesn't skimp on her vocal; it's believable if not overly inspired, and her read of the song is true to Hall's -- and the appearance of Johnny Cash on the last verse adds depth and mystery. The most angular track on the album is "I Look for Love," also by Hiatt, which seems like it was written after hearing Joe Jackson for the first time. With its odd lead line and funked-up bass, it feels like the track from outer space here, but in the grain of Cash's deeply passionate delivery it fits right in. The set closes with the title track. In its intimacy and shimmering surfaces, it points directly at records like Interiors and The Wheel that would come a decade later, though it's a love song, not a dark paean to something lost. As a follow-up to a smash album, Somewhere in the Stars was more than worthy and stands the test of time as a pillar in Cash's catalog.