POSTED 26 JULY 2001
Those who have followed Patty Loveless's career know that the
Kentucky-born singer has always had a soft spot for bluegrass. Not
only has she collaborated with the likes of Ralph Stanley and Ricky
Skaggs, but she's also dropped a bluegrass tune on her own records
here and there. Now she delivers a full album's worth of acoustic
"roots country" that stands as one of the best albums of her career,
not to mention one of the year's best in the genre.
Listen to "Someone I Used to Know."
"I'm Already There"
Thanks to 1999's "Lonely Grill" and its megahit power ballad
"Amazed," this foursome became one of the biggest names on the
current country landscape. Their new effort is again packed to the
gills with catchy hooks, but this time out, the sound has even more
of a soft-rock feel to it. With a mix of energetic ditties and big
ballads, Lonestar don't break much new ground, which should please
the faithful. But please explain again how this is a country album?
Listen to "Unusually Unusual."
"This is BR549"
They may have heaved the hyphen, but the neo-traditionalist quintet
BR549 still offer an infectious mix of honky-tonk, hillbilly swing,
and twangy rock. Their first album for Sony's Lucky Dog imprint
builds on previous efforts with a bit more diversity and nuance, but
for the most part it's still just straight-up classic country
performed by a band who truly loves to play it. It won't win any
awards for ingenuity, but it does make for rather enjoyable
Listen to "The Price of Love."
More new releases:
* Lila McCann, "Complete"
* The Del McCoury Band, "Del and the Boys"
* Lee Roy Parnell, "Tell the Truth"
See more new releases
TWO FROM TEXAS
Ray Wylie Hubbard, "Eternal and Lowdown"
The veteran singer-songwriter continues his impressive resurgence
with "Eternal and Lowdown," an album that looks to the blues for its
inspiration and offers another sterling set of thoughtful original
Radney Foster, "Are You Ready for the Big Show?"
Recorded live at Austin's Continental Club, "Are You Ready for the
Big Show?" mixes old Foster favorites with a handful of new songs.
FROM THE VAULTS
Bob Wills, "Boot Heel Drag: The MGM Years"
When Western swing wizard Bob Wills left Columbia for MGM in 1947,
his peak years may have been behind him, but as this double-disc
collection proves, Wills and crew still had plenty of exciting music
left in 'em.
More recent reissues:
* Marty Robbins, "Live Classics"
* The Monroe Brothers, "Just a Song of Old Kentucky"
* "Truck Driver's Boogie: Big Rig Hits, 1939-1969"
DOWN THE ROAD APIECE
Welch returns with her much-anticipated follow-up to 1998's "Hell
Among the Yearlings"; once again she delivers a subdued but sublime
"Down From the Mountain: Live Concert Performances by the Artists &
Musicians of O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
Capitalizing on the amazing and unlikely success of the "O Brother"
soundtrack, this disc of live performances by some of the "O
Brother" artists, recorded at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, is the
companion soundtrack for D.A. Pennebaker's concert documentary.
POSTED 1 JULY 2001
Williams's poignant and personal new album is mellower and more
introspective than 1998's "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road," but even
more affecting. She turns her gaze inward and delivers a
mesmerizing, emotion-rich vocal performance that is simultaneously
beautiful and haunting.
Listen to "Lonely Girls."
Originally intended to be a children's CD, "Rainbow Connection"
wound up being a "family CD" with songs ranging from kiddie
play-time favorites to country boogies to deep blues. The recordings
have a pared-down, rather informal nature, which, in the case of
Nelson, isn't a bad thing at all.
Listen to "Rainbow Connection."
The Georgia-born belter delivers another antidote to the
increasingly youth-focused Nashville pipeline. Guests here range
from Vince Gill to Don Henley to Rosanne Cash as Yearwood straddles
the line between country and adult-contemporary music.
Listen to "I Would've Loved You Anyway."
Brad Paisley's sophomore effort is another triumph for the West
Virginia traditionalist. With a mix of lively honky-tonk and
touching balladry, Paisley proves again that he's one of the most
talented and tradition-minded mainstreamers around.
Listen to "Two Feet of Topsoil."
"Time* Sex* Love*"
Mary Chapin Carpenter
After a considerable songwriting hiatus, Mary Chapin Carpenter
ventured to London to record her first album of new material in five
years. Once again, the Jersey girl shows an affinity for classic pop
melodies and an ability to marry those melodies to lyrical
Listen to "Simple Life."
O SISTER, WHERE ART THOU?
An impressive array of female country artists--including Rosanne
Cash, Iris DeMent, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Sara
Evans, Allison Moorer, and Patty Loveless--look to traditional
mountain music for inspiration.
Rhonda Vincent, "Storm Still Rages"
The International Bluegrass Music Association's reigning Female
Vocalist of the Year returns with a superb collection of new songs
and covers of classic country and bluegrass material.
K.T. Oslin, "Live Close By, Visit Often"
Produced by the Mavericks' Raul Malo, Oslin's first record in five
years is a stylish blend of new Oslin originals and pop standards.
Jim Lauderdale, "The Other Sessions"
Jim Lauderdale returns to his beloved hard-core honky-tonk on
another solid set of Bakersfield-style Lauderdale originals drenched
in fiddle and pedal steel.
"Roy D. Mercer vs. Yankees"
The one and only Roy "Dadgum" Mercer sets his sights on those pesky
Northerners on his brand-new collection of crank-call craziness.
DOWN THE ROAD APIECE
"I'm Already There"
The title ballad to Lonestar's forthcoming album has already pierced
the country Top 5.
This time, the Kentucky girl delivers a wonderful all-bluegrass
Most obituaries included the words "Gentle on My Mind" in the first
paragraph--if not the first sentence--but it would be a shame if
John Hartford was merely remembered for writing Glen Campbell's
classic country hit. Hartford, who succumbed to cancer on June 4 at
age 63, was a talented banjo player and fiddler who brought a unique
vision to his beloved bluegrass and old-time music, deftly blending
sincerity with silliness and sardonicism like few others could.
See all John Hartford recordings