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Jim Lauderdale

The Bluegrass Diaries – 2007 (Yep Roc)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Jim Lauderdale

For some two decades, Jim Lauderdale has been among the most bankable writers in Nashville and not just with the mainstream country crowd. His Grammy-winning 2002 collaboration with Ralph Stanley highlighted his credentials as a bluegrass artist as well, and he follows that up here with this collection of 11 songs, all written or co-written by Lauderdale (with the likes of Melba Montgomery, J. D. Souther and Paul Craft) and impeccably produced by Randy Kohrs. A native of the Carolinas, Lauderdale again proves that he's no poseur' he knows 'grass inside and out and has the voice to prove it.

Backed by a sterling cast, it's hard to pick favorites, but the choices here are the breezy "Chances," the fast-paced (and instrumentally hot) "Ain't No Way To Run" and two achingly lonesome songs, "Can We Find Forgiveness" and "It's Such A Long Journey Home," both featuring the striking pairing of Lauderdale with the even harder-edged Dave Evans. Powerful stuff.

The first of a trilogy to be released in the next few months (to be followed by collaborations with guitar god James Burton and ex-Grateful Dead-head Robert Hunter) showing off his versatility, this should satisfy even the most diehard bluegrass purists.