Jim Lauderdale shows that there is hope for unsigned artists.
Reviewing albums can be difficult. A reviewer often does not have time to let the material sit and percolate, for it to grow, and for it to be fully appreciated. Often the material is instantly great, and then it is easy. Nashville legend Jim Lauderdale has made this review an enjoyably simple task. With thirty-one albums under his belt, this is to be expected.
Jim Lauderdale has had a difficult career. In fact, the industry named the scenario of being a grammy-award winning artist that still can not get signed “The Jim Lauderdale Phenomenon”. His excellent bluegrass and country collaborations came at a time when the few big stars monopolised radio play. In the age of self-releasing and streaming, Lauderdale finally sees some success.
The album is a toe-tapper, a tear-jerker, a soul-searcher, and the whiskey in your belly at 3 am. It is everything one wants in a solid country-folk album and everything one has come to expect from Lauderdale. There were no individual tracks released as singles, but there are several stand-out tracks.
The album tracks differ in sound and style but maintain a strong theme of helping others. ‘Hope‘ is about reaching out. The opening song ‘The Opportunity to Help Somebody‘ sets the tone with a song about community aid.
‘Brighter Side of Lonely’ is a song about supporting a friend through mental health difficulties. “the moon won’t be full tonight, but it will be in time“, Lauderdale sings. The lyrics and sentiment are a little clumsy, but the fact that he wrote a positive country song about depression remains a laudable endeavour.
‘Brave One‘ and ‘Breathe Slow‘ offers a country take on mindfulness with lyrics about breathing slowly when life’s snakes bite you. The analogies and colourful similies make it worth the listen alone.
The band is made up of a collection of long-time partner musicians from his own label Yep Roc and was recorded at the legendary Blackbird Studios in Nashville.
A lyric from the last track sums up the album perfectly; it is a “joyful noise starting way down in the soul, growing up from in the soil“.