You have your Friday the 13th Part VIII and Nightmare on Elm Street 5 sort of sequels. Then you have this kind of a-little-more-of-a-good-thing-never-hurt-anyone sequel.
A follow-up to 1988’s Signatures, this album includes 10 country tunes sung by the people who wrote (or co-wrote) them. The performances run from the semi-croaky vocals of Nashville institution Harlan Howard (whose hits for other people include “I Fall to Pieces,” “Heartaches by the Number” and “Somebody Should Leave”) to the deep, hearty, first-rate singing of 25-year-old Matraca Berg (co-composer of “Faking Love,” a Karen Brooks hit). There are also two warm, smooth duets by Bill and Sharon Rice and two tunes apiece by Robert Byrne and Peter McCann.
The notable songs on Signatures II include Howard’s elemental “Be Careful Who You Love” (“for love can be untrue”) and Berg’s variation on the classic cheated-upon genre, “Lying to the Moon.” Fortunately, none of these sound like mere demo tracks—the kind of thing composers do just to give producers and performers an idea of what the song should sound like. These are full-fledged pieces of country music. And while there’s always a curiosity value in hearing songwriters sing their own compositions—as is true in this case—it’s a special treat when the songwriters are such talented performers as these folks. (RCA)