Bluegrass Meets Country

Bluegrass (Yep Roc Records)
Jim Lauderdale

By Bob Mitchell

After two years, the multi-talented and prolific Lauderdale is now releasing two simultaneous projects: Bluegrass and Country Super Hits: Vol. 1. This review pertains only to Bluegrass, a recording that features solid picking and a commitment to the conventional soulful sound of traditional country and bluegrass. Lauderdale is not an artist who can easily be placed in any single category because so much of his music can be adapted to a wide range of musical styles. He wrote or co-wrote all songs and provides his listeners with an interesting assortment of tunes.

Although this project is titled Bluegrass and although the instrumentation used is associated with bluegrass, the recording is not strictly bluegrass. You just can't take the country out of Lauderdale and, to be honest, no one in his or her right mind would want to do that. This project, however, contains vocal styling and the use of a Nashville-country-style backup chorus that do not fit the traditional mode of Bill Monroe's bluegrass.

Some of Lauderdale's best bluegrass work can be found in his 2002 collaboration with the legendary Dr. Ralph Stanley. That same year Lauderdale received a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album (Lost In The Lonesome Pines) as well as song of the Year and Artist of the Year from the Americana Music Association. Selections that have a bluegrass feel include three Lauderdale originals: an up-tempo "Mighty Lonesome" that features some mighty fine Dobro and twin fiddle work, a clever "It Wasn't That I Had To" with outstanding contributions from the mandolin and banjo and "Where They Turn Around," a showcase for the guitar and mandolin.

The cast of supporting musicians is exemplary: lead guitarist Bryan Sutton; bassists Jay Weaver and Dennis Crouch; banjo pickers Jason Stewart and Dave Talbot; Dobro player, Randy Kohrs; mandolin players Jessie Cobb, Josh Williams, Scott Simontacchi and Justin Clark and fiddle players Shad Cobb, Luke Bula and Ollie O'Shea.

Bluegrass is an enjoyable CD. For more information go to www.jimlauderdale.com