B&E: Hanna-McEuen

Breaking & Entering: A look at acts breaking at radio and retail and entering Billboard charts. This week: Hanna-McEuen

Profiling acts breaking at radio and/or retail and entering Billboard's charts.

With a rich melody and warm lyrics like "It's a little like an old sad song/It kills you but you sing along," new country duo Hanna-McEuen's debut single, "Something Like a Broken Heart," feels like a conversation with an old friend.

"That song to me is a feeling that everyone has felt," says Jaime Hanna. "It just describes everything you feel after someone has left you. Everything else might be going great and you may be surrounded by people you love, but you still feel empty."

Cousins Jaime Hanna and Jonathan McEuen join a lustrous lineage with the song, which arrived last week at No. 55 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart, making them the first duo of blood relatives to chart since the Judds. The track jumps to No. 50 this week.

The pair grew up together as the sons of identical twins who were married to longtime Nitty Gritty Dirt Band members Jeff Hanna and John McEuen. They were pursuing separate musical careers before the family summoned both of them to record the single "Lowlands" for the 30th anniversary of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" (EMI).

The album was released in 2002 as "Will the Circle Be Unbroken III," and the cousins' video for "Lowlands" scored the two an appearance on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and the Grand Ole Opry.

Soon after, Nashville-based Hanna and Ventura, Calif.-based McEuen began to collaborate on their MCA Nashville debut, due this summer, according to the label's Web site.

"The songwriting part is really fun," says Hanna, who wrote a good portion of the 12-track set with writing partner Alan Miller. "We usually try to find out what we want to write about and then we throw a cluster of thoughts at [Miller] and he helps to make sense of it."

While the duo's first effort is a reflection of years of collecting songs and a combination of separate experiences, McEuen says the second album will be more a meld of their present time together.

"Just the nature of the fact that we'll be spending so much time together on the road coming up," he says, "if we can record what's happening and remember what went down, that will be the key."

With hefty radio support and a tour with country veterans the Flatlanders this summer, McEuen adds, "you start appreciate the moments you have to relax. Next thing you know, you're on the road and it's time for record number two."

Artist: www.jonathanmceuen.com
Label: www.mca-nashville.com