World Without Tears (Lost Highway)
Whether you consider her music folk, country, rock, blues, or something else, there’s no denying the fact that Williams brings a lot of different styles to her latest collection of truth-telling tales. The 13 tracks cover all of the above genres and more, while picking up where Williams’ critically acclaimed 2001 Essence left off and living up to the America’s Best Songwriter title that she was given by Time magazine.
I’m Just a Girl (Arista Nashville)
In 1990, a girl from Tennessee packed her bags and made the road trip of her life to sunny California. Thirteen years and three albums later, you can hear the Golden State influences in this CD’s mix of styles — rock on “Girls’ Night,” a little Stevie Nicks à la “Landslide” on “Wildflower,” and touches of Sheryl Crow on “There’s No Limit.”
Rainy Day Music (Lost Highway)
Band members come and go, and lineup changes seem inevitable, but luckily the music still soars for this Minneapolis-formed alt-country-meets-classic-rock-meets-folk outfit. Moving on as a trio without founding member Mark Olson, this Ethan Johns- (of Ryan Adams’ Gold fame) produced set continues the Jayhawks’ familiar harmonies.
Rules of Travel (Capitol)
Ten years after her last release, The Wheel, the Grammy-winning, country-influenced Cash returns with a little help from family and friends — Steve Earle on the ballad “I’ll Change for You,” Sheryl Crow on the opener “Beautiful Pain,” and father Johnny on “September When It Comes.” The best performance is the up-tempo title song, co-written by Cash, which features a catchy chorus demonstrating her continuing impact on music.