`every song counts

Every Second Counts (Atlantic)
Jim Lauderdale

By Kory Wilcoxson

Skillfully sliding between downbeat country, deep blues and Southern-fried rock, Jim Lauderdale displays a knack for sharp songwriting and earnest delivery that make Every Second Counts a success.

Lauderdale's style resembles Little Feat or James McMurtry. Although he lacks McMurtry's storytelling ability, he makes up for it with a smooth voice that effectively captures the emotions conjured up in his songwriting.

Lauderdale shows flexibility when it comes time to deliver. He can be just as serious ("Charmed") as he can somber ("Echo"). But he really shines when he raises the roof, as he does on "Fireball" and "Ready to Ramble." In those songs, Lauderdale's wild side takes over, and the fusion of country and blues makes for a potent mixture.

There is a certain smoothness to the production of Every Second Counts that takes the edge off some of the more rugged songs. This works against Lauderdale, who could have benefited from a little more rawness to up the impact of the tunes. As it stands, the album is polished and solid, and demonstrates Lauderdale's talent for bringing words to life.