(Sugar Hill Records)
Jim Lauderdale played bluegrass music back in his native North Carolina as a teenager in the 70s. He won a Grammy in 2003 with Ralph Stanley for Best Bluegrass Album. Reason And Rhyme are all bluegrass songs written by Jim Lauderdale and the Grateful Dead's lyricist Robert Hunter.
Lauderdale wrote hits for George Strait, Vince Gill, the Dixie Chicks, Patty Loveless and George Jones. This album was recorded in Nashville. The musicians on this collection of songs are the best in the business, which include Mike Compton (mandolin), Jay Weaver (bass), Scott Vestal (banjo), Tim Crouch (fiddle), Clay Hess (acoustic guitar) and Randy Kohrs (resonator guitar &vocals).
This is a hardcore bluegrass album. Reason And Rhyme begins with "Cruel Wind and Rain" that sounds somewhat like Jerry Garcia's Old & In The Way until you hear Lauderdale's country voice. "Love's Voice" contains deft playing, and the musicianship calls to mind Flatt and Scruggs.
"Don't Tempt The Devil" evaporates time. The wooden instruments evoke some old vintage composition one might've heard from a 1940s album. "Tiger and the Monkey' stands as a lighthearted tune that flashes on the brilliant lyricism of Robert Hunter. "Not Let You Go" conjures musical harmonies of the Louvin Brothers.
"Fields of the Lord" is some of the most amazing bluegrass music I've heard. "Jack Dempsey's Crown" emerges as a soulful song about the man who defeated the legendary fighter. "Don't Give A Hang" swings along like a laid-back, front porch anthem and when Lauderdale sings "I don't care what's on the news/I sit and stare/I prefer the blues/I prefer the chair I never use/Prefer the rain in Syracuse/I don't give a hang," you know this is bluegrass music at it's finest.
The title track epitomizes perfect harmony between lyric and melody. Compton's mandolin and Vestal's banjo really weave a colorful fabric of sound. The closer, "Doin' It On My Own", uplifts the mood, and showcases what great bluegrass music is supposed to sound like. Reason And Rhyme shines like a chunk of gold in a miner's old pan...
RELATED LAUDERDALE LINKS