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Lucinda Williams/Jayhawks

LucindaA pair of roots rock veterans, Lucinda Williams and the Jayhawks, release new albums this week for Lost Highway. Williams' "World Without Tears" is the follow-up to 2001's "Essence," which debuted at No. 28 on The Billboard 200. The set features the artist backed by her touring band and was produced by Williams and Mark Howard (Bob Dylan, U2 and executive-produced by Gary Briggs.

"World Without Tears" is home to some of Williams' most disarmingly beautiful ballads and perhaps the most smartly sexy song she's ever penned in "Righteously." Williams says that not only was she listening to a lot of Paul Westerberg's solo material as she wrote "World Without Tears," but that Westerberg is the main inspiration behind the song "Real Live Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings." The artist opens for Neil Young and Crazy Horse beginning June 8 in West Palm Beach, Fla.

As for the Jayhawks, "Rainy Day Music" is highlighted by such strummy sing-a-longs as "Tailspin" and "Save It for a Rainy Day." The set features guest turns by ex-Eagle Bernie Leadon and Matthew Sweet. It was produced by Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams, Emmylou Harris) and executive-produced by Rick Rubin.

The follow up to the band's 2000 Columbia album "Smile," the new set is "the most acoustic based, stripped down, and live record the Jayhawks have ever made," reports guitarist/vocalist Gary Louris. "It's a new side of the band, and it's really in touch with what we're all about, because you can hear more of the vocals and harmonies."