The more you listen...the more you love!
dancing diva | Seattle, WA | 10/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Perhaps I'm biased, because I know Jim (he's awesome) and because my husband played a lot of the banjo tracks...but any album he creates is worth owning. The more you listen to it, the more you end up loving it and craving to hear it again...and again...and again... You get the point.
Cross-genre fare for fans of bluegrass & acoustic country
J. Ross | Roseburg, OR USA | 12/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Playing time: 40:39 -- Jim Lauderdale is making a big impact on the bluegrass genre, and his love for bluegrass was no more apparent among his many albums than when he featured Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys on his 1997 album, "Whisper." Later, Lauderdale was a guest on Stanley's "Clinch Mountain Country" project, and he in now an honorary Clinch Mountain Boy. Building on the chemistry between the two artists, they collaborated on an album of their own, the Grammy-nominated and highly recommended "I Feel Like Singing Today," (on the Rebel label). In 2003, his "Lost in the Lonesome Pines" (Dualtone 80302-01125-2) release featured both himself and Ralph Stanley singing his own self-penned songs.
Lauderdale is a prolific songwriter music who has penned many hits for artists like Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Mark Chesnutt, Kathy Mattea, and George Strait. "Bluegrass" features thirteen originals that largely focus on love-related themes. I'd challenge him to write a few more with catchy hooks, unique stories, and topical themes. A North Carolina native and son of a minister/choir director, Lauderdale also has extensive bluegrass roots. When he arrived in Nashville in the late 1970s, he had hoped to pursue a bluegrass career. Instead, he moved into mainstream country. Jim also has appeared on the Grand Ol' Opry. He may know bluegrass, but this "Bluegrass" album really gives us a mixture of bluegrass and country. It's a subjective assessment that really has to do with the songs, vocals, presentation, and arrangements, despite having some top pickers helping out like Jason Stuart or David Talbot (banjo), Shad Cobb, Ollie O'Shea or Luke Bulla (fiddle). Randy Kohrs (dobro), Bryan Sutton (guitar), and Dennis Crouch or Jay Weaver (bass). Four mandolinists contribute: Jesse Cobb, Josh Williams, Scott Simontacchi and Justin Clark. Kohrs sings harmonies on all tracks; Robert and Skye Jason sing on "It's So Different."
Lauderdale has some winners on "Bluegrass" that show that fresh, new bluegrass can be composed today that reflects the power, sentiments and emotions of traditional music. For six songs, Lauderdale's songwriting collaborators include Joe Henry, Leslie Satcher, John Levanthal, Buddy Miller, and Tony Villanueva. On past projects, he's also written with Candace Randolph, Shawn Camp, and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Some of the songs on "Bluegrass" come closer to acoustic country, but a few convey the bluegrass power and drive. Kicking off the set, "Mighty Lonesome" sets the right mood for a bluegrass set. Begging for forgiveness is a common theme in bluegrass, and Jason Stewart's banjo and Shad Cobb's fiddle provide the propulsion. A haunting ghost story, "There Goes Bessie Brown" has enough of a cool old-time groove that some clawhammer banjo (courtesy of someone like Riley Baugus) could've really kicked butt. "It Wasn't That I Had To" has a playful bounciness. Fortunately, "Don't Blame the Wrong Guy" and "Where They Turn Around" (a train song) close the set or I might have been left wondering where the rest of the bluegrass music was on this CD. His country heart and soul is probably most evident in "Who's Leaving Who" that asks "Who's leaving who? What's it to you? Something is wrong with this scene." Ultimately, the broken relationship leaves Jim wondering, "I don't know if I'm leaving you or if you're leaving me." Pay attention to his lyrics because there are some new twists and nuances in old commonly-sung messages.
I am also going to restate a common complaint with CD jackets. While the song and musician credits are certainly a priority, would the labels please start giving us a few more panels with narrative about the artist, musical vision, a few sentences about each song? With efficient graphic design and layout, these items can be provided without expanding beyond six panels.
Lauderdale won a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album for his "Lost In The Lonesome Pines" album. I'd recommend that one for some in-yer-face hard-driving lonesome bluegrass before this latest effort. "Bluegrass," on the other hand, has more cross-genre fare for fans of bluegrass and acoustic country music that mostly addresses love and relationships. The songs will, however, take root with repeated listens. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)
This Bluegrass rocks!
Corey Cate | Bay Area, California | 11/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Another fine example of Lauderdale's prowess as a singer and songwriter, as well as demonstrating his skill in getting great musicians together to exceed expectations.
Expert flattop, dobro, fiddle, mandolin, banjo and standup bass all are accompanied by Jim's NC twang. They marry well to his smart lyrics.
All polished performances, my enjoyment of this effort gathers steam as I get more familiar with each song.
I was unaware of Lauderdale before 2003, (what a shame!) but now I have each of the CDs. All because I heard Patty Loveless sing one of his songs, Halfway Down, and went to the web to find out who'd written it. Each album I bought brought a similar experience: songs that plant themselves and grow on me. His work with Ralph Stanley is tops. The Grammy voters thought so too.
Experience this one if you enjoy bluegrass, and my bet is you'll go out and buy it and others by Lauderdale."