Jim Lauderdale

Reason and Rhyme

It wasn’t easy for me to become a bluegrass fan. Where I grew up, country and bluegrass music were always on the radio. By the time I was 13, I couldn’t stand it anymore; it was the aural definition of what it meant to be a hick. But you just can’t get away from your roots. In due time, the music claimed me all over again, thanks, in part, to musicians like Gram Parsons and others who went back to it, finding the treasures so many people like me had abandoned when we were too young to know how bone deep that music went. Which brings me to Jim Lauderdale’s latest album. The 11 songs here were all written by Robert Hunter, the guy who added so much to the Grateful Dead oeuvre. Though this is new music, it’s authentic to the core. Lauderdale’s voice, the exceptional pickers backing his vocals, and these finely crafted miniature musical stories all combined to carry me back to my grandparents’ farm. I could almost smell the corn. Listen to “Jack Dempsey’s Crown,” just for a start. I swear I knew the guy portrayed in that song. I could smell the tavern, and feel the sawdust on the floor. It was that vivid. This album’s a gem, and you needn’t be a hick to think so. But it can’t hurt.