Can there be too much of a good thing? If the question’s about collaboration between American roots music hero Jim Lauderdale and legendary lyricist Robert Hunter, the answer’s an emphatic “no!” Marking the former’s debut on the respected Sugar Hill records label, Reason And Rhyme makes a compelling case for the continued vitality of the Lauderdale—Hunter partnership—and for Lauderdale’s unique and deeply satisfying approach to bluegrass.
“This one’s back to total bluegrass,” Lauderdale says of the collaborative follow-up to 2010’s electric Patchwork River, and so it’s no surprise that it features many of the musicians involved in previous bluegrass efforts like Could We Get Any Closer (2009) and 2007’s Grammy-winning The Bluegrass Diaries. The close-knit crew, headed up by producer and resonator guitarist Randy Kohrs, is perfectly in tune with Lauderdale’s ‘grass-with-a-twist sensibilities, and whether it’s a return buddy like bassist Jay Weaver or new colleague Mike Compton (mandolin), each player delivers mightily with the genre’s characteristic virtuosity and emotional fire.
“We started on this one last August,” Lauderdale notes, “right after I finished touring with Elvis Costello. Robert and I have worked just about every way you can think of—writing in the same room, adding lyrics to music and music to lyrics—but whichever way we go, he’s the lyrics guy and I’m the music guy. This time around, we wanted to keep the momentum from Patchwork River going; I started sending him melodies, and ten days later we had 18 songs to choose from.”
The collaboration began over a decade ago, when Lauderdale was preparing for his first joint project with bluegrass patriarch Ralph Stanley, and quickly bore fruit, with more than 30 songs written before the first all-collaborative album, Headed For The Hills (2004). “I’m not surprised, but I’m always blown away how creative he is lyrically,” says the singer/songwriter, who’s busy enough that finding time to record has always been among his greatest challenges.
With 11 fresh takes on the bluegrass sound that he’s loved since he was a teenager, this latest effort presents Jim Lauderdale at his most relaxed and rooted—and with the help of one of American music’s greatest lyricists, it’s a set that offers not only deep musicality, but deep meaning and vision. Reason And Rhyme—it’s just the right name for just the right music.
Jim Lauderdale 2011 Tour Dates
2011-06-22 Nashville, TN - Music City Roots
2011-06-24 Nashville, TN - Station Inn
2011-06-27 New York, NY - The Living Room
2011-07-22 Trumansburg, NY - Grassroots Festival
2011-07-24 Washington, DC - Hill Country
2011-07-26 Abindgon, VA - Virginia Highlands Community College
2011-08-06 Casper, WY - Beartrap Summer Festival
2011-08-08 Helena, MT - Myrna Loy Center
2011-08-10 Boise, ID - Alive After Five
2011-08-11 Snowmass Village, CO - Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Series
2011-08-13 Alta, WY - Targhee Music Festival
2011-09-06 The Woodlands, TX - Real Life - Real Music @ Dosey Doe
2011-09-17 Bristol, TN - Bristol's Rhythm and Roots Reunion
2011-10-06 Richmond, VA - Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
2011-10-07 Asheville, NC - The Orange Peel - with the Blind Boys of Alabama
2011-10-13 Nashville, TN - Americana Music Conference
2011-10-21 North Bethesda, MD - Strathmore