The debut album by Carolyn Dawn Johnson leads country CD releases this week. Also out are a solo project by one of Alison Krauss' sidemen and reissues by Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty.
Johnson's Room With a View, on RCA Nashville, has already yielded two hit singles, "Complicated" and "Georgia." It also earned her an unprecedented 10 nominations for the upcoming Canadian Country Music Awards.
Johnson had her sights on Nashville from an early age. She dropped out of college for a while to study recording engineering in Vancouver, British Columbia, and joined the Nashville Songwriters Association International from afar, eventually traveling to Nashville to attend its songwriting workshops. The likes of Kathy Mattea recorded Johnson's songs, but it was her demo recordings and her background singing on Kenny Rogers' Wild Horses that led to a recording project and ultimately this album. Johnson wrote all 11 songs on the CD. Martina McBride and Kim Carnes add backing vocals.
Also new is Faraway Land, the first solo CD (on Rounder Records) from Ron Block, the banjo player in Alison Krauss' Union Station Band. Block, who joined Union Station in 1991, wrote three songs on Krauss' Every Time You Say Goodbye album. He's had his songs recorded by Randy Travis and Rhonda Vincent, and produced a gospel album by the Forbes Family on Rebel Records. Accompanying him on his own gospel album are Krauss, Jerry Douglas, Dan Tyminski, Barry Bales, Viktor Krauss, Stuart Duncan and the members of Nickel Creek. Block wrote all of the album's 12 songs.
The MCA Nashville reissue 20th Century Masters: The Best of Loretta Lynn: The Millennium Collection Vol. 2 on MCA Nashville features 12 songs, produced by the late Owen Bradley, that Lynn recorded between 1964 and 1981. Included are such Lynn classics as "The Pill," "Fist City," "Somebody Somewhere (Don't Know What He's Missing Tonight)," and a duet with the late Conway Twitty on "As Soon As I Hang Up the Phone."
Meanwhile, MCA's Millennium series has also issued a second volume of Twitty's work. The collection includes a duet with Lynn on "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man." Other cuts include "Fifteen Years Ago," "A Bridge That Just Won't Burn," and "She's Got a Single Thing in Mind."