Thursday, November 20, 2008

by Peter

Jim Lauderdale

Jim Lauderdale is a singer/songwriter with his roots firmly in the country music. However, to call him a country artist would do him short. Lauderdale uses elements of country, folk, blues, honky tonk, rock etc. He might not be a household name for many and didn't sell many records but he is a highly respected songwriter with people as Emmylou Harris (with whom he toured and it is why I know him as I saw him opening for Emmylou Harris in 1990), Vince Gill and George Jones.

Lauderdal got recognition after recording a track for the "A town south of Bakersfield" compilation.

He got a contract and got in touch with people like Dwight Yoakam and Lucinda Williams.

I Feel Like Singing Today and Lost in the Lonesome Pines are recorded with legend Ralph Stanley full of traditional bluegrass. Bluegraas is what the title suggest... another bluegrass album while Honey Songs is his last and excellent album, released this year. It contains more country and less bluegrass. In case you need confirmation how good Lauderdale is, check the musicians on his last album: band with more than a few legends on board -- guitarist James Burton, drummer Ron Tutt, Gary Tallent from Springsteens E Street Band bass, plus legendary session men Glen D Hardin (piano) and Al Perkins (pedal steel). Backing vocalists includiEmmylou Harris , Buddy Miller, Patty Lovelss and Kelly Hogan. No need to say more.

Jim Lauderdale has recorded 17 albums. Here are a few:

Jim Lauderdale & Ralph Stanley - I Feel Like Singing Today (1999)

North Carolina native Jim Lauderdale is well-known in Nashville as a proficient songwriter and an excellent performer in his own right. This album finds Lauderdale taking a shot a bluegrass music. He even wrote or co-authored nine of the 15 tunes on the CD, including two of them with former Grateful Dead songwriter Robert Hunter. He also had the good sense to throw in with Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, one of the premier bluegrass/mountain music bands in the world. This is a unique project for Lauderdale. The fact that he succeeds so thoroughly is due not only to his eminent songwriting chops but also because he has obviously learned his bluegrass lessons very well over the years. Given that anyone who can sing will sound like a veteran bluegrasser if they're singing with Ralph Stanley, it's still remarkable how convincingly Lauderdale has slipped into this genre. ~ Philip Van Vleck, All Music Guide

Jim Lauderdale & Ralph Stanley - Lost in the Lonesome Pines (2002)

Songwriter and vocalist Jim Lauderdale's second pairing with bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley retains much of the vitality of 1999's I Feel Like Singing Today, and if anything, the duo seems to have become more comfortable working together on Lost in the Lonesome Pines. One can only imagine the jitters Lauderdale must have felt working in the studio with one of American music's true treasures, so the hints of apprehension revealed in the cracks of the earlier album have been brushed away, and the two sound like old pals sitting on a sunlit porch trading songs and licks. The gruff sentimentality in Lauderdale's lead vocals provide the perfect canvas for Ralph Stanley's high lonesome tenor to color, echoing the close harmonies of the Stanley Brothers from 50 years earlier. In many ways, this album is reminiscent of the spectacular collaboration between Steve Earle and Del McCoury on The Mountain; both albums paired a respected maverick singer/songwriter with a legendary bluegrass figure, and the results on both are not quite bluegrass and not quite contemporary folk, but both feel just about right. ~ Zac Johnson, All Music Guide

Jim Lauderdale - Bluegrass (2006)

Jim Lauderdale is both eclectic and prolific, working steadfastly within the Americana/ roots field, recording and releasing a slew of projects with everyone from bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley to jam band Donna the Buffalo. In his latest incarnation, he has simultaneously released two projects, one, Country Super Hits, Vol. 1, delving into classic honky tonk, the other, Bluegrass, delving deeply into country music's most rustic subgenre. One might guess that with a title like Bluegrass Lauderdale intends to reinterpret the classics from yesteryear, but that isn't the case. Instead, he has written and co-written new songs within the tradition. As his former project with Stanley (I Feel Like Singing Today) suggests, Lauderdale is drawn to traditional bluegrass, though his song structures, as with "I Shouldn't Want You So Bad," expand beyond the genre's conservative past. The acoustic guitar, dobro, mandolin, banjo, and fiddle arrangements, and Lauderdale's country-flavored vocals, reinforce the rootsy sound. The solid harmony (nicely done on "Who's Leaving Who") is icing on this old-fashioned cake. The downside to the collection is that there is already a great deal of bluegrass on the market, and while it's always fun to hear an outsider's take on the genre, it's hard for Lauderdale to match the vocals of a singer like Karl Shiftlett or put together a band as hot as Del McCoury's. In other words, as good as these songs sound, they add very little to the tradition. But alternative country fans will appreciate Lauderdale's refresher course on Bluegrass, nonetheless, and more than likely want to pick up the Country Super Hits, Vol. 1 collection too. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., All Music Guide

Jim Lauderdale & The Dream Players - Honey Songs (2008)

The second in a string of rapid-fire releases from Nashville songwriting guru Jim Lauderdale, Jim Lauderdale and the Dream Players' Honey Songs is a gathering of mythical music proportions. For Honey Songs, Lauderdale pulled together big name friends and session royalty for this album full of rambling, soon-to-be country classics. Legendary Elvis Presley guitarist James Burton is featured on lead guitar along with Springsteen's E Street Band bassist, Gary Tallent. Flying Burrito Brother Al Perkins lays down timeless pedal and lap steel alongside the piano of superstar sideman Glen D. Hardin (Merle Haggard, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Dean Martin). Holding down the backbeat for the Dream Players, drummer Ron Tutt has to be the only man with the distinction of playing with both Elvises - Presley and Costello. The big names don't end with the instruments, backing vocalists include Emmylou Harris ("I'm Almost Back"), Patty Loveless ("Hittin' It Hard"), Buddy Miller and Kelly Hogan.


Blogger Stig said...

Great stuff here, I thank you!

21 November, 2008 06:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this marvellous post!

21 November, 2008 08:00  
Anonymous Paul said...

Very enjoyable - good bluegrass is always welcome

22 November, 2008 12:38  
Blogger Northing said...

I see how this kind of in-print posting could cause you trouble, but what about Lauderdale's early 'Planet of Love?' OOP, no? I'd love a copy of that.
Keep on, your doing great work that is much appreciated.

24 November, 2008 02:33  

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