Pretty Close to the Truth

by Jim Lauderdale

08/10/94 Atlantic

Jim Lauderdale did his share of label hopping in the 1990s, recording for Reprise and RCA, as well as Upstart/Rounder. Released in 1994, Pretty Close to the Truth was the first of two albums he provided for Atlantic. Some might wonder why an artist who was talented enough to write songs for the likes of Patty Loveless and George Strait did so much label hopping, and it came down to the fact that — from a commercial standpoint — he had too much integrity for his own good. Sure, Lauderdale could have taken the easy way out and tried to become just another radio-oriented Garth Brooks clone, but if he had done that, Pretty Close to the Truth would not have been half as interesting and heartfelt as it is. This CD isn’t easy to categorize; is it Americana, roots rock, alternative country-rock? However you describe it, Pretty Close to the Truth is a diverse, unpredictable effort that draws on influences ranging from Merle Haggard to the Rolling Stones to classic soul. While the title song has a strong Stones influence and “This Is the Big Time” would not be out of place on a Dwight Yoakam album, the soul-minded “Why Do I Love You?” isn’t unlike something Al Green would have recorded in the early 1970s — take away the steel guitar and add a Memphis-style horn section, and you can easily imagine Green recording “Why Do I Love You?” for one of his Hi albums. In a perfect world, this album would have been a favorite at country radio. But, in 1994, Lauderdale was determined to do things his own way, and while that free-spirited attitude can frighten marketing people and radio programmers, it makes for a lot of first-class listening on Pretty Close to the Truth. ~ Alex Henderson, All Music Guide