Jim Lauderdale is one of the most respected artists working in the country / Americana field today. As a songwriter Lauderdale’s credits include some of the greats of the country genre and beyond (Blake Shelton, Lee Ann Womack, George Strait, Vince Gill, The Dixie Chicks and Elvis Costello) in a career that dates back to the 80’s. His latest solo release is a silky smooth slice of soulful country music that finds Lauderdale working in the UK with Nick Lowe’s band and a host of great players.
The album was produced in London by Neil Brockbank and the late Robert Trehern aka Bobby Irwin (Van Morrison) and features further Nick Lowe alumni Matt Radford (bass), Steve Donnelly (guitar) and Geraint Watkins (keys) as the core band with Trehern on drums. These guys obviously know each other so well that they operate with an innate sixth sense and the result is a record that is gloriously produced and beautifully played.
Opener ‘Sweet Time’ is old-school country that could have been recorded anytime in the last fifty years, which is a good thing, and sets the album up nicely. ‘I Love You More’ follows and features a heartfelt Lauderdale vocal over gentle piano, but what sets ‘I Love You More’ apart is the absolutely gorgeous addition of strings. Lauderdale was experimenting with strings for the first time at the behest of producer Neil Brockbank and if he wants to put out an album in this style I’m in. Lauderdale switches things up and adds horns for ‘You Came to Get Me’ which must have had Trehern thinking he was back behind the kit with Van Morrison. The horns are also present on the Dan Penn co-write ‘What Have You Got to Lose’ which benefits from the McCrary Sisters adding some really nice backing vocals. The seductive ‘If I Can’t Resist’ follows and this John Oates co-write has a relaxed feel that wouldn’t be out of place on a Chris Isaak record.
John Oates also brings the soul influences from his day job in Hall & Oates to the fore on ‘Different Kind Of Groove Some Time’ which again features Jim Hoke (sax) and Steve Herman (trumpet) and finds Oates adding backing vocals alongside Lala Deaton and Bekka Bramlett, while additional recording in Nashville allows Kenny Vaughn to step up and add some tasty guitar licks. Lauderdale’s hard-earned reputation enables him to work with some of the best around across a range of genres. The album concludes with ‘This Is A Door’ all tinkling ivories and snaking lead guitar lines which showcases Lauderdale versatility and his ability to kick things up with something a little more rock 'n' roll.
‘London Southern’ finds Jim Lauderdale in relaxed mode, seemingly totally comfortable in his own skin. The result is a quality country music release with added soul and a little dash of rock n’ roll that you might well find yourself revisiting often.