Joe Diffie, O Sister Lead New Country Releases

Journeyman singer Joe Diffie ’s ninth album and yet another O Brother, Where Art Thou? offshoot lead new country releases this week.

Diffie’s In Another World (Monument) continues the singer’s blend of ballads and nonsensical songs. The title song is a prime example of the former, while the latter is well illustrated by the wacky “My Give a Damn’s Busted.” The title song is No. 29 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart for Nov. 3.

The multi-platinum O Brother soundtrack has already yielded the successful spinoff Down From the Mountain and now a principal character from both of those albums is on yet another venture. Alison Krauss is prominent on O Sister! The Women’s Bluegrass Collection (Rounder). Also appearing from both O Brother and Mountain are the Cox Family . Other singers taking part include IBMA bluegrass entertainer of the year Rhonda Vincent , Laurie Lewis , country veteran Wilma Cooper and folk music giants Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard.

Country music legend Kitty Wells recorded a landmark album in 1974, when Nashville regarded her as pretty much a faded flower from country’s past. Her Forever Young project showed Wells as eminently capable of blending country’s past with what at the time seemed its future: a country/rock fusion very much in step with what was happening on country’s fringes. With Southern rock producer Johnny Sandlin at the helm and with a stellar bunch of musicians from the Allman Brothers Band, Sea Level and the Marshall Tucker Band , Wells gamely tackled songs ranging from Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” to Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” The very listenable album is now available on CD from Nashville’s Junction Records.

That label also releases the debut album from singer-songwriter Randy Kohrs, who has toured as guitarist with the John Cowan Band. His CD A Crack in My Armour features his own compositions as well as songs by such writers as Jim Lauderdale and Judy Rodman .

Popular western singer Joni Harms, who was named western female vocalist of the year in July by the Academy of Western Artists, has a new album titled After All (Paras Group International). She ranges from the tale of a waitress with the song “Millie” to the ranchero-flavored “Ay Yi Yi Yi” to the traditional “West Texas Waltz.”

Tony Rice, Larry Rice, Herb Pedersen and Chris Hillman sprang from the Southern California country/rock/bluegrass era of the ‘60s and played with groups ranging from the Byrds to Country Gazette to the Dillards and the Desert Rose Band. As Rice, Rice, Hillman & Pedersen, they have amassed a faithful following. Their new Running Wild CD (Rounder) runs through material as varied as the Beatles’ “Things We Said Today,” Buck Owens ’ “Take Me Back Again” and Larry Rice’s “The Mystery That Won’t Go Away (The Jon Benet-Patricia Ramsey Song).”

Texas song belter Don Walser is represented by the retrospective package Dare to Dream: The Best of Don Walser (Texas Music Group/Lone Star Records). Songs include “Danny Boy,” “Shotgun Boogie” and “The John Deere Tractor Song.”

Fifty of cowboy legend Gene Autry ’s songs are collected in two re-issues: Goin’ Back to Texas: 25 Texas Classics and The Western Collection: 25 Cowboy Classics (Varese Vintage).