Jim Lauderdale

Time Flies – 2018 (Yep Roc)

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

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Americana's most prolific artist has delivered another strong set of performances. Jim Lauderdale's signature singing manner, distinctively unhurried with elongated phrasing emphasized in nearly every song, may turn-off some - but if you haven't come under his spell by now, there isn't much chance of conversion as we head toward the 30th anniversary of "Planet Of Love."

For the rest of us, "Time Flies" causes...well time to fly.

"The road is a river, the river is a road" admittedly may not be Lauderdale's most insightful lyrical phrase, but he makes up for it elsewhere with bursts of cosmic cowboy grooviness. "If The World's Still Here Tomorrow" is a plaintive ode replete with haunting steel straight out of the Ray Price songbook. "Wearing Out Your Cool" and "Violet" are a pair of songs among the finest here, both in writing and execution. "When I Held The Cards In My Hand" paints a vivid lyrical scene, further buoyed by Chris Scruggs' retrotone.

Considering Lauderdale recorded his first (until this year, unreleased) album in Earl Scruggs' basement studio, there is something appropriate about Chris Scruggs' guitar being prominent on his 30th release. The Fabulous Superlative offers electric, acoustic and steel varieties while also dropping in some Dobro and mandolin.

Also joining Lauderdale are folks like Kenny Vaughan (guitar on two tracks), Jay Weaver (bass), and Lillie Mae Rische who sings on all but one song while offering fiddle on "Where The Cars Go By Fast," a terrific number also featuring Craig Smith's impressive lead guitar riffs.

Lauderdale typically builds his albums around a theme, and "Time Flies" is no exception. Combining the warmth of '60s soul with an expansive soundtrack set in a foundation of exploration, Lauderdale and co-producer Weaver have crafted the definitive metamodern sounds of country music.