Album Review: Jim Lauderdale – “Reason and Rhyme” (Sugar Hill)

Features — By on July 15, 2011 9:40 pm

Reason and Rhyme is Jim Lauderdale’s latest studio album. This man has put out 19 albums of bluegrass, country, and sometimes pop music. Through his consistently solid song writing, Lauderdale has helped modern country music sound the way it does. Lauderdale is responsible for the country sound of the 90’s; everyone from George Strait to George Jones have played the songs of Jim Lauderdale. His new album is a collection of 11 well-crafted three-minute country/bluegrass songs.

Reason and Rhyme is the second consecutive album by Lauderdale written with Robert Hunter, best known for being The Grateful Dead’s key lyricist. 2010’s Patchwork River (read our review HERE) showed Lauderdale’s more rock and roll side, while Reason and Rhyme brings back his essential bluegrass sound. The album has songs for every mood. Lauderdale and Hunter have filled this album with happy songs, sad songs, funny songs and adventure songs. Whatever you want, these men have it. Filled with great stories, acoustic guitar and a hell of a lot of banjo, this is a solid bluegrass album.

Robert Hunter had a lot to do with this album. His lyrics are unmistakable. The free spirit and universal love shines past Lauderdale’s acoustic picking. If this weren’t such a fast-paced, foot-tapping, bluegrass album, you might be able to imagine Jerry Garcia singing.  These songs take you back to the lyrics of Working Man’s Dead and American Beauty.

All of the songs on this album are concise and well thought out. A few of the songs might be a little “wordy” for traditional bluegrass, but songs like Don’t Tempt the Devil and Jack Dempsy’s Crown remind you of the way Lauderdale can craft a song. The quick-paced, pickin’ and grinnin’ album will put a smile on your face.

If you like country music, you like Jim Lauderdale. If you like bluegrass, you will like this album. There is only so much you can say about this album. It is played with the precision of a master craftsman. The lyrics sound as if they were written by two incredible songwriters who have spent decades in the business, which, of course, describes these gentlemen to a tee. This is not the most daring or initiative album in Lauderdale’s vast collection, but it is a solid album. It is damn fun to listen to.

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