Two young country hitmakers release debut albums Tuesday (June 4), while adventurous new collections from Jack Ingram and Tift Merritt stretch the boundaries of country music. Kitty Wells, "The Queen of Country Music," enjoys a remastered reissue, and Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen get back to basics.
Kentucky native Shannon Lawson delivers Chase the Sun (MCA Nashville), featuring his first hit "Goodbye
on a Bad Day." Produced by Mark Wright (Lee Ann Womack, Mark Chesnutt), Chase the Sun includes 10 songs co-written
by Lawson, as well as a bluegrass take on the Marvin Gaye classic "Let's Get it On."
Hometown News, a duo who cracked
the Top 40 with the novelty hit "Minivan," are driving all over the country, in a minivan of course, to support their debut,
Wheels (VFR Records). The set includes a remake of Stealers Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle With You."
one of the biggest music stars in Texas, Ingram returns with Electric (Lucky Dog). A batch of Nashville's most in-demand
guitarists plug it in, which gives Ingram a more robust sound than on previous efforts. He's doing rare in-store appearances
in Texas this week to promote the album.
Debuting with Bramble Rose, Merritt's earthy music has drawn comparisons
to Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. She's the latest artist to bow on Lost Highway Records,
home to Ryan Adams, Lucinda Williams and the
O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.
Hillman and Pedersen, formerly of the Desert
Rose Band, reunite for Way Out West (Back Porch), a collection of back-to-basics California country music. The
CD booklet boasts cool pictures from throughout their notable careers, as well as an essay by Alan Rockman. Hillman was also
a member of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, and Pedersen played with the Dillards
and the Laurel Canyon Ramblers.
Wells gets the Millenium Collection (MCA Nashville/Decca) treatment on a digitally
remastered package featuring 12 original, Owen Bradley-produced singles. Besides the country classic "It Wasn't God Who Made
Honky Tonk Angels," the CD includes two duets with Red Foley.
country stars -- Confederate Railroad, Chris LeDoux
and Lila McCann -- see their hits repackaged this week. Meanwhile, Cool Blue Outlaws:
Rogues, Renegades and Rapscallions plunders 16 cuts from the Sugar Hill Records catalog.