Jim Lauderdale’s range sparkles on two very different forthcoming albums | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Jim Lauderdale’s range sparkles on two very different forthcoming albums 

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click to enlarge Jim Lauderdale

Jim Lauderdale

Scott Simontacchi

As if we needed another reminder of the catholic sensibilities of country auteur Jim Lauderdale, on August 3 he’ll drop a pair of disparate albums on Yep Roc that casually reveal his easygoing range and natural curiosity. Jim Lauderdale and Roland White is a previously unissued session he cut with the titular bluegrass picker of Kentucky Colonels fame in the basement of Earl and Louise Scruggs’s house in 1979, not long after Lauderdale had arrived in Nashville determined to make his mark. The guitarists harmonize together on the classic bluegrass repertoire with such ease and charm it sounds as if they’d been working together for decades. In the years that followed, Lauderdale made his biggest mark as a songwriter, churning out country hits for other artists, but he’s never stopped working as a performer—he’s got 30 albums to his name. The newly recorded Time Flies captures Lauderdale in typically eclectic form and treats his impeccable songcraft through a variety of modes; the title track, for example, reflects his abiding love for soul music, though the twang quotient remains front and center, and “The Road Is a River” channels the haze of 70s folk-rock, deftly embroidered by the lead guitar of Chris Scruggs, whose performance recalls early Mark Knopfler more than Chet Atkins. On most of the record singer and fiddler Lillie Mae Rische and her brother Frank Rische expertly limn Lauderdale’s singing with agile vocal harmonies that put a pop gloss on the tender ballad “Violet” or on the hokum of the music-hall ditty “Slow as Molasses”—which is one of several tunes that descend into corn.   v

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