This week's releases add sparks to the quiet summer release months, starting with The Kinleys II (Epic), the sophomore set from the so named country twins, and the DreamWorks debut of Darryl Worley, on Hard Rain Don't Last.
The harmonizing Kinleys Heather and Jennifer have grown more confident and opened up their sound on this 13-song set, which features eight tracks produced by singer/songwriter Radney Foster. They put their own twist on his "I'm In" and also co-write with Foster on "If I Ever Needed You." Songs from such top writers as Marcus Hummon (Dixie Chicks' "Ready To Run" and "Cowboy Take Me Away"), Leslie Satcher, Vince Melamed and Bob DiPiero are included, as is the bonus track "Somebody's Out There Watching," the Kinleys' single from the soundtrack to "Touched by an Angel."
Worley makes his DreamWorks debut this week with Hard Rain Don't Last. Worley co-wrote 10 of 12 of these gritty, intimate cuts, including the first single, "When You Need My Love," which is currently #21 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. He draws from his honky-tonk heroes Merle Haggard, George Jones and Roger Miller for this album of raucous and contemplative cuts. Highlights include the title track, "Too Many Pockets," "Good Day To Run," "Second Wind" and "If I Could Just Be Me."
Singer/songwriter Hank Thompson's raw western-swing style has influenced many artists throughout his lengthy career. Since the 1940s, Thompson has racked up 28 top-10 hits, including his first #1, the 1952 single "The Wild Side of Life" (RealAudio excerpt), which spurred the writing of Kitty Wells' classic "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels."
On the HighTone release Seven Decades, the Country Music Hall of Fame member shows he's still in fine form, with new cuts such as "Sting in This Ole Bee," "New Wine in Old Bottles," "Medicine Man" and "Lobo the Hobo" to illustrate the point. Onstage favorites such as Jimmie Rodgers' "In the Jailhouse Now" and Tex Williams' "The Night Miss Nancy Ann's Hotel for Single Girls Burned Down" are also included. Thompson also reworks "Then I'll Start Believin' in You" as one of his renowned nursery-rhyme songs and adds his swing elements to Vernon Dalhar's "Wreck of the Old '97" for his latest project.
Other releases this week include two Bloodshot Records albums. Crazy Rhythm is a revival series package from 1930s and '40s western-swing hero Hank Penny, featuring 30 previously unreleased recordings and his trademark tune, "Little Red Wagon."
Country and blues fusionists Devil in a Woodpile's Division Street is also due this week.