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Jim Lauderdale

Honey Songs – 2008 (Yep Roc)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Jim Lauderdale

If Jim Lauderdale isn't the most visionary country artist working right now, he must certainly be considered the most prolific. With this release, the second of three albums Lauderdale will offer within nine months time, he proves to be both. Coming between the already released (and patently excellent) "The Bluegrass Diaries" and an upcoming collaboration with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, "Honey Songs" is more than just Lauderdale's latest classic country offering, it's a red carpet line-up of musical talent assembled to perform some of the songwriter's finest original compositions to date.

The aptly named "Dream Players" finds Lauderdale fronting veteran players who have supported Elvis Presley (guitar legend James Burton, pianist Glen D. Hardin, drummer Ron Tutt), Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers (steel pedal icon Al Perkins) and Bruce Springsteen (bassist Garry Tallent), as well as a veritable who's who of vocalists (Emmylou Harris, Patty Loveless, Buddy Miller and Kelly Hogan among them).

Lauderdale gives this all star collection a top notch set of songs worthy of their stellar reputations, from the double clutch swing of "Stingray" to the haunting country blues of "It's Finally Sinking In" to the Marshall Crenshaw-channels-George Jones swagger of "I Hope You're Happy" to the Johnny Cash-flecked "The Daughter of Majestic Sage." With Lauderdale's stacked deck of great songs and unbeatable musical accompaniment, "Honey Songs" lives up to its sweet, smooth and irresistibly delicious name.