Singing Their Way Cross-Country

As concept albums go, highways form a handy framework for hanging songs. Route 66 has been a sturdy musical standby for years, and Jimmy Buffett hung an album on the A-1-A. In this case, I-10 , which spans the U.S. from coast to coast, is the framework, and the songs and artists reflect the diversity of the areas through which I-10 passes. Willie Nelson, with "Everybody's Talking" (RealAudio excerpt), evokes the dream of Florida as paradise, as depicted in the movie Everybody's Talking, in which the song originally appeared. Joe Ely and Flaco Jiminez conjure up the spare drama and stark landscape of the Southwest with "Saint Valentine" and "Smack Dab in the Middle." Warren Zevon's "Carmelita" (RealAudio excerpt) becomes a dark country epic as interpreted here by Adam Duritz. Other artists on this starkly effective work include the Austin duo Bill and Bonnie Hearne, the Cuban singer Eliades Ochoa, bluesman Charlie Musselwhite and newcomers Cherokee Rose, Meredith Marshall and Sarah Nicole. These are not so much road songs as songs about people in various states of transit, psychologically as well as physically.