Following the passing of the late, great James Brown, there are those that have argued that Jim Lauderdale rightfully deserves to inherit the title of the hardest working man in show business. And for good reason. An avowed and industrious multi-tasker, Lauderdale never rests, a habit that once resulted not only in his decision to release several albums in a single year, but more remarkably, multiple albums all at one time.
Suffice it to say that Lauderdale has never adhered to the old adage that suggests it's best to keep audiences wanting more. Even so, it hasn't lessened his appeal. In Lauderdale's case, quality is never hindered by quantity, and given his ability to turn out songs that sound like standards even on first hearing, there's no reason for him to temper his ambitions. Proof is provided by Lauderdale's new effort, "From Another World," a collection of songs that find him collaborating with a host of other writer, including Mando Saenz, Melba Montgomery, Logan Ledger, Mark Nevin and Sara Douga. Remarkably, the quality is consistent throughout, and Lauderdale's clear-eyed perspective is never diminished.
Lauderdale's always exceeded at purveying a smooth croon, and so it ought to come as no surprise that several of these selections follow suit, among them such obvious examples as "Like People From Another World," "I'll Forgive You If You Don't," "The Graceland Horses" and "Ever Living Loving Day."
On the other hand, Lauderdale also takes the opportunity to flex his musical muscle, and aided by his astute backing band, he does just that on the dogged and determined "Some Horses Run Free," the rambling and robust "Slow Turn In the Road" and most especially "Are You Trying To Make A Song Out Of Us?." The latter tune may be an example of where Lauderdale culls his inspiration. While it's difficult to gauge which album might be his best - after all, he has nearly 30 offerings to select from - "From Another World" could be considered truly out of this world indeed.
Lee Zimmerman is a freelance writer and author based in Maryville, Tenn. He also expounds on music on his web site, Stories Beyond the Music - Americana Music Reviews, Interviews & Articles. His book - "Americana Music - Voices, Visionaries and Pioneers of an Honest Sound" - is available from Texas A&M University Publishing.