by Jim Lauderdale

08/10/98 Upstart/Bayside

Although Jim Lauderdale’s songwriting credits include numerous mainstream country hits, Lauderdale the performer draws from a variety of musical influences. Throughout PERSIMMONS, Jim’s deep, fluent voice carries effortlessly over this captivating mix of country, rock, blues, and soul. As producer, Lauderdale brought together a large and diverse group of veteran players ranging from Robbie Turner (Waylon Jennings) and Bucky Baxter (Bob Dylan) to Emmylou Harris and Billy Bremner (Pretenders). The resulting fifteen cuts glide, kick, and “steel” across the boundaries of music and metaphor, life, lovers, and a UFO sighting.

Of the slower cuts, “Do You Like It” (emphasis on it) is a sweet, swaying remembrance of sunflowers and fireflies, “that smile,” “her laugh,” “those days.” Gently caught between “Welcome home, please stay a while” and “clouds of purple curling, sends emotion swirling,” Lauderdale never does answer the question “Am I Only Dreaming This?” With a faster tempo, “Had a Little Time” is a hopping bit of flirtation, while the rocking “Jupiter’s Rising” captures a young boy’s anxiety in the aftermath of a UFO landing (“Well, maybe next year there’ll be a lot more”).

Engineer Tim Coats helped Lauderdale experiment with the sound of steel, something which has fascinated Jim since a very young age. It is an integral part of the overall tone/flavor of PERSIMMONS, a key addition to the drums, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, and occasional piano or keys. Partly the versatility of the more than fifteen players, partly the engineering–each song on PERSIMMONS found its own sound.
Cynthia A Harney