Jasper County – Trisha Yearwood
It’s been four years since Trisha Yearwood put out a new album, but the wait was well worth it. “It’s just like coming home,” says Yearwood. “Everything is in the best perspective of my life, both professionally and personally. I feel wiser. I am just very, very happy. I consciously took a break, but I am not finished. I miss performing, and I do love the applause.” This comeback CD is titled after Trisha’s home county in Georgia, and it’s a peach of an album.
Trisha’s fiancé, Garth Brooks, contributes backup harmonies on her first single, “Georgia Rain.” Yearwood includes funky numbers such as “Pistol” and “Sweet Love,” and the hypnotic song of swirling romantic obsession, “River of You.” Other gems include “Who Invented the Wheel” and “Try Me.” B+
The Legend – Johnny Cash
This 115-song, four-disc Johnny Cash boxed set offers an enjoyable survey of the “Man in Black’s” music, starting with his classic Sun Records sides from the 1950s and much of his work on Columbia Records. Notably absent is Johnny’s late-period work on American Recordings, including his last hit “Hurt.”
The fourth disc, called Family and Friends, collects 24 of Cash’s collaborations with others, including Mother Maybelle Carter, Anita Carter, Rodney Crowell, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Waylon Jennings, and it ends with the previously unreleased, “It Takes One to Know Me,” written by his step-daughter, Carlene Carter. Even if you already have other Cash box sets, this one is still worth putting in the cab. It’s the most comprehensive package yet. A+
Hillbilly Deluxe – Brooks & Dunn
“Play Something Country,” the raving new single that is Brooks & Dunn’s fastest moving ever, is a good introduction to the kind of album this is. Hillbilly Deluxe merges classic jukebox country with Brooks & Dunn’s jacked-up take on modern sounds in honkytonk’n’rocking music.
“You never wanna rest on what you’ve done,” explains Dunn. Brooks celebrates female independence with the road-tripping go-git-it-girl romp “She Likes to Get Out of Town,” and Dunn invokes tears-for-a-quarter country of classic vintage with “She’s About as Lonely as I’m Going to Let Her Get.” Another track worth spinning is “Just Another Neon Night.” B
After All These Years – Eddy Arnold
After All These Years earns the remarkable distinction of becoming Eddy Arnold’s 100th career album. This fall marks the 60th anniversary of his first hit single, and “The Tennessee Plowboy” went on to have 92 Top 10 singles and 28 No. 1 hits throughout his career, including “Make the World Go Away.”
At 87, Arnold is still the consummate Southern gentleman. He’s often spotted dining at Nashville’s lunchtime restaurants, and he’s very respected within the business community. He was honored this year with a 2005 GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award, and he’s put out a pretty good record, too, with this release. “Old Porch Swing” is one of a dozen gems on this latest Cowboy Jack Clement-produced Eddy Arnold album. Eddy also does a nice job on “When I Dream” and “King of the Road.” C+