On first thought, the idea of the Man in Black recording such covers as "Bridge over Troubled Water," "Danny Boy," and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" might seem odd, even for an artist who's been able to put his personal stamp on just about everything. But American IV: The Man Comes Around, which also draws on Cash's original songs as well as those by Nine Inch Nails ("Hurt"), Sting ("I Hung My Head"), and Depeche Mode ("Personal Jesus"), may be one of the most autobiographical albums of the 70-year-old singer-songwriter's career. Nearly every tune seems chosen to afford the ailing giant of popular music a chance to reflect on his life, and look ahead to what's around the corner. From the opening track--Cash's own "The Man Comes Around," filled with frightening images of Armageddon--the album, produced by Rick Rubin, advances a quiet power and pathos, built around spare arrangements and unflinching honesty in performance and subject. In 15 songs, Cash moves through dark, haunted meditations on death and destruction, poignant farewells, testaments to everlasting love, and hopeful salutes to redemption. He sounds as if he means every word, his baritone-bass, frequently frayed and ravaged, taking on a weary beauty. By the time he gets to the Beatles' "In My Life," you'll very nearly cry. Go ahead. He sounds as if he's about to, too. Unforgettable.