Jim Lauderdale

Jim Lauderdale
Jim Lauderdale: Scott Simontacchi.

Inspired by the pandemic, veteran singer/songwriter Lauderdale stresses resiliency and renewal on these 13 originals, enhanced along the way by several of Nashville’s finest guitarists.

Chris Scruggs stands out on several tracks; his raw, insistent lead guitar kicks along the aggressive “The Opportunity to Help Somebody Through It,” and the R&B-driven “Here’s To Hoping” benefits from his guitar and mandolin. The ’60s flavor of “Mushrooms Are Growing After the Rain” is enhanced by Scruggs’ guitar, mandolin, and lap-steel, along with Will Van Horn’s pedal-steel.

The ballad “Sister Horizon” deploys five guitarists – Scruggs, Kenny Vaughan, and Van Horn handle the amplified end, while Frank Rische interjects a limber acoustic solo as Wes L’Anglois handles rhythm. On “It’s Almost More Than All the Joy,” Scruggs, Van Horn, and L’Anglois spin a bright, ethereal framework around Lauderdale’s voice.

Russ Pahl adds pedal-steel, electric, and acoustic guitar to the stately “Memory,” Lauderdale’s final collaboration with veteran Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, who died in 2019. Craig Smith adds multiple guitar parts including a punchy solo on “Brave One” and a magnificent amplified break on the intimate, jazz-tinged “When Searching for Answers.” The collective result is a bracing convergence of stellar songs, powerful vocals, and skillful accompaniment.

This article originally appeared in VG’s November 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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