Brad Paisley, Mary Chapin Carpenter Lead Country Releases

His second album, her Time*Sex*Love are highlights.

Brad Paisley's much-awaited sophomore album and Mary Chapin Carpenter's seventh studio CD are this week's major country music releases.

Paisley, widely heralded as a young champion of traditional country music, has vaulted to stardom since releasing his debut, Who Needs Pictures, in 1999. The album, which yielded the #1 hits "We Danced" and "He Didn't Have to Be," is now platinum and Paisley has since racked up CMA and ACM awards, a Grammy nomination and membership in the Grand Ole Opry.

His new album, Part II (Arista/Nashville), was intended to be a continuation of Who Needs Pictures, Paisley has said, and in fact, the fiddle fade-out at the end of Pictures is reprised as a fade-in on the new album's first song, "Two Feet of Topsoil" (RealAudio excerpt).

Paisley wrote all but three of the album's cuts, covering three songs that he frequently performs. Darrell Scott's "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" (RealAudio excerpt) is a chronicle of coal miners' lives in Paisley's native Appalachia and "Too Country" (RealAudio excerpt), written by veterans Bill Anderson and Chuck Cannon, is an incredulous response to a view held in some country circles. Finally, Paisley ends the album with his live rendition of "The Old Rugged Cross" (RealAudio excerpt), recorded at the Opry the night he was invited to become a member.

The full title of Carpenter's new Columbia Records album was originally Time Is the Great Gift; Sex Is the Great Equalizer; Love Is the Great Mystery, but she eventually shortened it to Time*Sex*Love. She recorded it at Air Studios in London in November of 2000, with production by Carpenter, her guitarist John Jennings and producer Blake Chancey.

Carpenter wrote nine of the album's 14 cuts and co-wrote the others with collaborators Jennings, Gary Burr and Kim Richey. The songs, Carpenter has said, are primarily about time, sex and love; hence the album title.

There are two album re-issues this week, both by Kenny Rogers. The 1984 album Duets was recorded with the late Dottie West, Kim Carnes and Sheena Easton. The Gambler, recorded in 1978, won the CMA album of the year award in 1979.