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Jim Lauderdale and Ralph Stanley

I Feel Like Singing Today – 1999 (Rebel)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Jim Lauderdale and Ralph Stanley

First there was Steve Earle and Del McCoury. Now another contemporary country figure has enlisted the aid of a bluegrass legend to help him realize his bluegrass ambitions.

After mainstream hits as a songwriter and Americana chart success as a performer, Jim Lauderdale's first full bluegrass effort is exceptional. The collaboration with Ralph Stanley began with the two trading guest appearances on recent albums (Lauderdale's "Whisper" and Stanley's "Clinch Mountain Country"). Having written or co-written 9 of the 15 tunes, Lauderdale proves that his songwriting skills easily translate to bluegrass. "Who Thought That the Railroad Wouldn't Last," the title track and "Joy, Joy, Joy" (co-written with Robert Hunter of Grateful Dead fame), are up-tempo tunes that allow the Clinch Mountain Boys to shine.

With "Another Sinner's Prayer" and "Like Him," featuring Stanley in a powerful a cappella performance, Lauderdale displays an ease with more spiritual matters. >Amongst the impressive covers are Carter Stanley's "Who Will Sing For Me"and Johnny and Jack's "What About You."

Label this a triumphant venture into bluegrass for Lauderdale.