By this point in his career, you’d think that Jim Lauderdale wouldn’t have any more songs left in him, or at least have any more energy to share them. After all, when you’re known for releasing three albums at a time with one coming out practically every three or four months, it’s hard to imagine that inspiration would still be so consistent. So credit Jim Lauderdale with bringing new meaning to the word “prolific,” or at least showing the kind of proficiency that makes this flood of new music seem like little more than the norm.
Indeed, here it is, only August, and I’m a Song already becomes his third or fourth album so far this year, and the prospects are that there are more to come. Given that the man breaks the most cardinal rule of show biz, “leave them wanting more,” it would also be easy to take these tunes for granted. Yet here again, Lauderdale’s no slouch. The new album boasts fully 20 songs, each an example of his gift for compact, sturdy country and the kind of indelible melodies that suggest these are classics in the waiting. It’s hard to know just how he manages to tap into whatever it is that makes them so memorable, but suffice it to say it’s due at least in part to his reverence for the form. Consequently, songs such as “Let’s Have a Good Thing Together,” “Today I’ve Got the Yesterdays,” “I Lost You” and “I Wish You Loved Me” ingrain themselves in the consciousness well before those final notes fade away. Hell, the titles alone make it seem like these songs have been around forever, never mind the hooks they bear that sound almost ready-made.
Best described as Lauderdale’s take on the Bakersfield sound, the new album bolsters its credence with a veritable A-list of guest artists, singers and songwriters. Elvis Costello, John Oates and Robert Hunter offer individual assist when it comes to the latter, although Lauderdale himself has a hand in every song here. James Burton and Al Perkins are among those that provide instrumental support, while guest vocalists Lee Ann Womack, Patty Loveless and Buddy Miller pitch in on an occasional song. Still, this is Lauderdale’s opus entirely, further proof that the album title is, once again, all too apt indeed.
– Lee Zimmerman