by Jim Lauderdale

9/19/06 Yep Roc


Though Jim Lauderdale has built something of a reputation as a live-wire, honky-tonk throwback (as well as writer of mainstream country hits for the likes of George Strait), his acoustic bluegrass releases represent some of his freshest music. His latest is a sequel of sorts to his 2002 Grammy-winning collaboration with Ralph Stanley, Lost in the Lonesome Pines. Here, he finds kindred spirits among a range of songwriting partners including Joe Henry, John Levanthal, Leslie Satcher, Buddy Miller, and Tony Villanueva (formerly of the Derailers). Released simultaneously with Country Super Hits, Vol. 1, these performances have an immediacy in contrast with the countrypolitan polish of that album’s arrangements. Banjo, fiddle, and mandolin abound, on material that covers all sorts of ground. There’s a bittersweet bluesiness to both “Living for You” and “My Treasure,” while harmonies highlight “Time’s a Looking Glass,” “Who’s Leaving You,” and the call-and-response of “It Wasn’t That I Had To.” “Love in the Ruins” and “It’s So Different” sound like classic country in an acoustic setting, with the stately balladry of “Forever Ends Today” bringing out the soulful best in Lauderdale. –Don McLeese