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Jim Lauderdale: more than your typical songwriter

Johnny D's, Somerville, Mass., Dec. 8, 1999

By Jeffrey B. Remz

SOMERVILLE, MA - Jim Lauderdale has enjoyed great success as a songwriter of hits for others. His resume includes "We Really Shouldn't Be Doing This," among a slew of songs for George Strait, and "Gonna Get a Life" for Mark Chesnutt,"

But his solo career has never quite reached the same level of success, even though he has put out many good albums, including his double dose earlier this year - a bluegrass album with Ralph Stanley , "I Like Singing Today" and his major label country disc, "Onward Through It All."

Preceding a stellar show by pop meister Marshall Crenshaw, Lauderdale combined forceful singing, a warm stage presence and a slew of finely written songs in his hour-long opening set before a packed club of about 300 people.

Lauderdale sang songs from varying genres and parts of his career. He sang blues, soul, country and more. While the uninitiated could accuse the North Carolinian of genre jumping, that is far from the case.

Lauderdale is equally adept at all styles he plays and sings. Doesn't matter either whether the song is slow or, in most cases, fast. His slightly twangy voice is full-bodied and commanding.

Interestingly enough, the two most country songs of the night - "King of Broken Hearts," a tribute to George Jones and Gram Parsons, and "Whisper," the title track of his previous CD, were also about the best.

Lauderdale could easily have milked his hits for others and won over the crowd in that fashion, but only did two - "You Don't Seem to Miss Me" and "Half Way Down" - both hits for Patty Loveless.

And while Loveless does a great job singing both songs, Lauderdale is no slouch either in performing them.

While many songwriters may write good songs, they can't put them across in concert either due to slight vocals or stage presence. Lauderdale needn't worry about either.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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