New albums by Trisha Yearwood and Lucinda Williams lead the pack of new country releases this week, which also includes CDs from Asleep at the Wheel, Meredith Edwards and T. Graham Brown.
Yearwood's Inside Out (MCA Nashville) was produced by her and staff producer Mark Wright, known for his work with Lee Ann Womack. Yearwood who does not write songs is highly regarded in Nashville for her song sense, and she calls on the best of Nashville's songwriting corps for her new work.
Veterans Matraca Berg and Harlan Howard have songs on the disc, as does Nashville newcomer Rebecca Lynn Howard, whose own recording of her song "I Don't Paint Myself Into Corners" inspired Yearwood's Inside Out version (RealAudio excerpt).
Yearwood is also joined by Don Henley on the Bryan Adams/Gretchen Peters song "Inside Out" (RealAudio excerpt) and by Rosanne Cash on a remake of the latter's 1981 #1 hit "Seven Year Ache" (RealAudio excerpt).
Williams' follow-up to her acclaimed 1998 release, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, is her sixth album in 22 years and finds the singer recording 11 of her own compositions. She produced the new album, Essence (Lost Highway), along with her guitarists Charlie Sexton and Bo Ramsey and co-producer Tom Tucker. Joy Lynn White and Jim Lauderdale contribute backing vocals.
Seventeen-year-old country newcomer Edwards was brought to Nashville last year by Lance Bass of pop group 'NSYNC. They grew up together in Clinton, Mississippi, and were formerly in the touring group the Mississippi Showstoppers. Now Bass manages the young singer, and she has opened shows for 'NSYNC. Her debut album, Reach (Mercury Nashville), was produced by three old pros: Keith Stegall, Richard Marx and Robin Wiley.
The International Bluegrass Music Association named Rhonda Vincent female vocalist of the year in October. For her new album, The Storm Still Rages (Rounder), Vincent follows the pattern set with her last outing, Back Home Again, mixing her arrangements of country and bluegrass classics (including "The Martha White Theme") with three original tunes.
The Very Best of Asleep at the Wheel (Relentless Nashville) features new recordings of the western swing group's most-requested songs from their live shows. Brad Paisley shows off his guitar-picking skills on the Hank Garland instrumental "Sugarfoot Rag," and country chanteuse Mandy Barnett lends her vocal skills on "The Letter (That Johnny Walker Read)."
Bluesy country shouter Brown collects a number of his best live performances on T. Graham Brown Lives! (Relentless Nashville). He includes such Brown classics as "Wine Into Water," "Darlene," "I Tell It Like It Used to Be" and "Memphis Women & Chicken."