Jim Lauderdale's bona fides in both country music and the more recently anointed Americana/roots music scenes are hard to top; his Wagonmaster Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2016 Americana Music Awards is just the icing on a career cake that's included dozens of hit songs cut by the likes of George Strait and many more, and a personal discography including country, bluegrass and roots music of all stripes.
This CD is a tribute to Texas songwriters, performers and the legendary dance hall scene that means many artists can spend their entire career within the state and make a decent living.
"All the Rage in Paris," previously recorded by The Derailers and Randy Rogers, is a musical explanation of that phenomenon and a highlight. In keeping with the theme, all the co-writers represented here are Texans, and the recording itself was done on a single day in a Lone Star State studio with local musicians including singer Sunny Sweeney, Bobby Flores of George Strait's band, Chris Masterson of Steve Earle's band, Floyd Domino from Asleep at the Wheel, and producer/pedal steel player Tommy Detamore. Just the fact that Lauderdale was able to get players of this caliber together for a one-day session on the fly should tell you all you need to know about the Lone Star scene and its depth and variety, and respect for tradition.
The result is about as close to spending an evening at a Texas dance hall that one can get without setting foot on a boot-scuffed wooden floor, with two-step rhythms and plenty of fiddle and steel guitar to go around. Lauderdale nods to one of his biggest Texas-related hits, "We Really Shouldn't Be Doing This," originally cut by George Strait, by recutting it here in a country calypso style that recalls classic Johnnie & Jack.
In an era where current country hit acts have strayed far afield from the genre's traditions while still paying lip service to its founders, it's reassuring to have artists such as Jim Lauderdale who can make new music that both acknowledges the past and points to a more creative future.