Martina McBride’s Greatest Hits Leads Country Releases

Alt-country Favorites Buddy and Julie Miller Make Their First Album Together

Martina McBride says it’s by pure coincidence that she’s sporting a small American flag on the cover of her new Greatest Hits CD, released Sept. 18. The cover was designed well before the events of last week.

McBride, long known for her preference for reality-based songs, led a Nashville vigil last Wednesday (Sept. 12) to pay tribute to victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Besides singing the national anthem at that event, she also sang a chorus of “Independence Day,” which is included on her hits album. That song, actually about domestic abuse, includes pointed references to righting wrong and making “the guilty pay,” and it’s become her signature song. CMT has featured it in programming in recent days, and has it available for listening at its page for downloading red, white and blue ribbons.

Besides such other hits as “A Broken Wing” and “Safe in the Arms of Love,” her album on RCA also includes four new songs. Among them is her current single, “When God-Fearin’ Women Get the Blues.”

Buddy and Julie Miller have been champions of the alt-country movement for years. Buddy Miller has been a mainstay of Emmylou Harris ’ band, and the Millers have written songs for Harris, the Dixie Chicks , Brooks & Dunn , Lee Ann Womack and others. Each has done solo albums; now they have released their first album together. Besides original songs, the self-titled CD on HighTone includes covers of Richard Thompson’s “Keep Your Distance,” Utah Phillips’ “Rock Salt and Nails” and Bob Dylan’s “Wallflower.” Harris sings with them on “Forever Has Come to an End.”

The Wayfaring Strangers, an eclectic acoustic group whose members include Jennifer Kimball, Andy Statman, Tony Trischka and PBS Jazz commentator Matt Glaser, have released Shifting Sands of Time. Ralph Stanley , Rhonda Vincent , Laurie Lewis and Tim O’Brien are familiar names in the cast of guest vocalists. Stanley sings “Man of Constant Sorrow.” Vincent does a jazzy “Rank Stranger.” Rounder suggests that record stores file the set under “bluegrass,” but it’s a safe bet that traditionalists will feel disoriented initially when they hear it.

Aaron Tippin has an early Christmas release. A December to Remember on Lyric Street includes, among other songs, “Run Rudolph Run,” “Blue Christmas” and “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Lyric Street also issues a Christmas anthology album by various artists. No Wrapping Required: A Christmas Album includes contributions by Tippin, Ricky Skaggs , Sonya Isaacs , Porter Wagoner and others.