In the liner notes to his new album, Ghost on the Canvas, Campbell writes that it's the last studio record he plans to make after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Rock critic Ken Tucker says the album "has a melancholy air of valedictory about it."
Since releasing her first solo album in 1967, Parton has become a star in movies and on television. But rock critic Ken Tucker says that her new album, Better Day, returns the focus to Parton's singing and her frequently underestimated songwriting.
The star is admired for his guitar playing, and for the way he mixes elements of country and rock music without pandering to either audience. Ken Tucker says that Paisley's new album, This Is Country Music, is less a manifesto than an enjoyable way to hear him expand his fan base.
In 1927 and '28, Ralph Peer, a talent scout for the Victor Talking Machine Company, set up recording sessions in a town straddling the Tennessee-Virginia border. The resulting sessions, rock critic Ed Ward says, laid the framework for all of country music.
Middle Brother is a trio formed by members of other bands: Deer Tick, Dawes and Delta Spirit. Critic Ken Tucker says the group's new self-titled album reaches across decades of rock, folk and country music.
Country music singer and songwriter Rodney Crowell brings his guitar to play some songs that relate to his new memoir, "Chinaberry Sidewalks." Crowell has been successful in the worlds of country music and alternative music. His songs have been hits for many singers, including Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings and Tim McGraw.
Fresh Air's pop music critic, Ken Tucker, picks the best music of 2010, including albums by Tracey Thorn, Kanye West and Arcade Fire. He also pays tribute to Kate McGarrigle, the Canadian singer who died of cancer last January.
Every holiday season brings a new batch of seasonal pop music, some of it from unlikely or obscure sources. Rock critic Ken Tucker has listened to most of the new holiday collections released this year, and has chosen three albums that ought to make your season a bit more festive.
Country singer Loretta Lynn married at 13, had six children and created controversy by singing songs about divorce and the pill. Here, she talks about her decades in the music business, her relationship with her husband and a new tribute album, Coal Miner's Daughter.
Taylor Swift turns 21 in December, and she'll still be one of the youngest country singer-songwriters to have achieved massive success. Her songs operate as both faux-confessionals and universal anthems. Her new album, Speak Now, is already a best-seller.
In 1951, Williams was one of the biggest stars in country music. He was also a pitchman for Mother's Best flour and farm feed, a company that sponsored a daily 15-minute radio show. Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews Williams' performances on the show, which were just released on a 15-disc set called The Complete Mother's Best Recordings... Plus!
The acclaimed music-video director transitioned to the big screen with One Hour Photo, a dark psychological drama starring Robin Williams. Now Romanek has tackled Never Let Me Go, the futuristic thriller based on Kazoo Ishiguro's novel.
Skaggs became a mainstream country music star in the 1980s, but in recent years, he's become more interested in performing in a traditional bluegrass style. Ken Tucker says the tracks on Skaggs' album Mosaic "don't just fit together -- they lock into place with a firmness."
One of American popular music's great enigmas, says critic Ed Ward, is what would have happened to Patsy Cline's career if it had lasted longer. She was poised to revolutionize the role of the solo female singer, as well as Nashville's place in the music business, when she was killed in a plane crash. Decca has just released her complete recordings on an album called Sweet Dreams.
Stuart has been playing country music professionally since his early teens. From the mid-1980s to the early '90s, he had a lot of mainstream country-music success. But in recent years, Stuart has migrated toward an old-fashioned sound. Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews his latest album, Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions.