New albums by Trisha Yearwood and Lucinda Williams lead a pack of new country releases this week. Other new CDs are coming from Asleep at the Wheel , Meredith Edwards, T. Graham Brown and Rhonda Vincent .
Yearwood’s Inside Out on 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 cream of Nashville’s songwriting corps for her new work. Veterans Matraca Berg and Harlan Howard have songs here, as does Nashville newcomer Rebecca Lynn Howard, whose recording of her song “I Don’t Paint Myself Into Corners” inspired Yearwood’s version.
Yearwood is joined here by Don Henley (on the Bryan Adams/Gretchen Peters song “Inside Out”) and by Rosanne Cash on a re-make of the latter’s 1981 No. 1 hit “Seven Year Ache.”
Lucinda Williams’ follow-up to her acclaimed 1998 release Car Wheels on a Gravel Road finds the singer recording 11 of her own compositions. She produced the album, Essence, on Lost Highway Records, along with her guitarists, Charlie Sexton and Bo Ramsey, and co-producer Tom Tucker. Joy Lynn White and Jim Lauderdale contribute background vocals.
Seventeen-year-old country newcomer Meredith Edwards was brought to Nashville by Lance Bass of the pop group ’N Sync. They grew up together in Clinton, Miss., and were formerly in the touring group the Mississippi Showstoppers. Now Bass manages the young singer and she has opened shows for ’N Sync. Her debut album, Reach, on Mercury Nashville was produced by three old pros: Keith Stegall, Richard Marx and Robin Wiley.
The Very Best of Asleep at the Wheel on the Relentless Nashville label 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 T. Graham Brown collects a number of his best live performances on T. Graham Brown Lives!, also on Relentless Nashville. He includes such Brown classics as “Wine Into Water,” “Darlene,” “I Tell It Like It Used to Be,” and “Memphis Women & Chicken.”
The International Bluegrass Music Association named Rhonda Vincent female vocalist of the year in October. For her new one, The Storm Still Rages, Vincent follows the pattern set with her last, Back Home Again, mixing her arrangements of country and bluegrass classics (including “The Martha White Theme”) with three original tunes.