News

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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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
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Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
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11 best face powders

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England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

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Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

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Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

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Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

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America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone