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Poignant letter is filled with words of encouragement for her 22-year-old self

Album: Joey & Rory, A Farmhouse Christmas (Sugar Hill)

A kind of pathological localism lies at the heart of the American ideal of Christmas, and they don't get any more local than Joey and Rory, a husband and wife duo from Tennessee.

Album: Kalli, Last Train Home (One Little Indian)

The lure of Laurel Canyon stretches far and wide – to Iceland in Karl "Kalli" Henry's case, though he actually travelled to Nashville to record Last Train Home, surmising that top sessioners like Buddy Spicher, Hargus "Pig" Robbins and "Gentleman" Lloyd Green were best equipped to realise his country-rock dream.

Album: Ashton Shepherd, Where Country Grows (MCA Nashville)

There's something immensely gratifying about rockin' country music like this: the songs, the wit, the playing, the production values, the crackle of atmospheric enjoyment which accompanies such certainty of purpose.

Album: Dave Cloud and the Gospel of Power, Practice In The Milky Way (Fire)

Nashville's "garage-rock lounge lizard extraordinaire" is given to bouts of Beefheartian lyricism on his latest collection, bawled with sinister charm over grinding riffs whose function is surely to keep his muse on the rails.

Album: Joss Stone, LP1 (Stone'd/Surfdog)

Recorded over six days in Nashville with Dave Stewart, the debut release on Joss Stone's own label is, she claims, the first on which she has exerted total creative freedom.

Talinha Sky: The Story of Kings of Leon (15)

An unlikely success story is recounted in Stephen C Mitchell's patchwork rockumentary.

Curragh murk may hobble Royal hopes

The Queen's colt out to avenge Epsom defeat but soft ground puts Irish Derby challenge in doubt

Carlton House poses threat to O'Brien's dream of sixth straight Curragh success

There will still be four runners from Ballydoyle in Sunday's Irish Derby, but not the four originally envisaged. Treasure Beach, Memphis Tennessee and Seville are still on course for the Classic that has become a benefit for their trainer Aidan O'Brien, but Recital was not on top form yesterday morning and his place in the squad will be taken by Roderic O'Connor.

Explosion rocks GKN's profits

A fatal explosion last month at an American plant run by the industrial and engineering group GKN will result in a £30m one-off hit, before insurance claims, to GKN's profits, the company said yesterday.

Kings of Leon, 02 Arena, London

Four scruffy guys walk on to the stage amid a noise level that rivals thunder and take hold of their instruments. Familiar rifts entice the crowd as a sepia film brings the faces of the Followill family close up even to thosein the deepest corners of the 02.

O'Brien settles on Derby quartet

Yesterday was a time for some i-dotting and t-crossing, and a little head-scratching, in mission control at Ballydoyle. In the morning, Aidan O'Brien's squad for the Derby was finalised; a quartet – Seville, Recital, Treasure Beach and Memphis Tennessee – is set to challenge for the £1.25m Investec-sponsored purse at Epsom on Saturday, with another who might have done so, Roderic O'Connor, heading for the Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly the following day.

The Secret Sisters, Bush Hall, London

Laughing and joking with the crowd, at ease on stage, you'd never guess that less than two years ago Laura and Lydia Rogers had never been on a plane, let alone performed in front of a live audience. The sibling duo, who hail from the perfectly Bible-Belt-sounding Muscle Shoals, Alabama, formed The Secret Sisters after elder sister Laura (who handles lead vocals) was spotted at an impromptu Nashville audition. Los Angeles beckoned and their self-titled debut album of sweet harmonies and country charm (recorded, in faux-1950s fashioned, without any digital equipment) was born.

Picture of the Day: Once this was all fields... The Mississippi floodgates open

Over the next few days, water spewing through a Mississippi River floodgate will crawl through the swamps of Louisiana's Cajun country, chasing people to higher ground while leaving much of the land under 10 to 20 feet of water.

The worst is yet to come from the mighty Mississippi

The flood is expected to crest next Thursday at Vicksburg, where the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers meet, at a level easily higher than in the Great Flood of 1927
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Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities