40 years ago, when he was 19 years old and recently transplanted to Nashville, Jim Lauderdale recorded his first album with Roland White. Recorded in Earl Scruggs’ basement, the tapes neglected to get him signed at that time. And by the time he did get signed years later, the recordings were long presumed lost.
It’s a delightful irony that the recordings surfaced in time to be released in conjunction with Lauderdale’s new album, Time Flies (Yep Roc). This week, Lauderdale is releasing both albums, and you’re not going to want to miss it.
The album produced by Roland White is entitled Jim Lauderdale and Roland White (Yep Roc) (engineered by Steve Scruggs) and features a classic bluegrass sound — Marty Stuart on lead guitar, Roland White on mandolin, guitar and vocals; Gene Wooten on dobro, Johnny Warren on fiddle and Terry Smith on bass– amidst trebly vocal mixes. A quick rundown of some of the twelve tracks includes: “Don’t Laugh,” (with classic old time vocal arrangement), “February Snow,” with its nostalgic feel, “Forgive and Forget,” “Gold and Silver” with Stan Brown on banjo delirium. And then “Nashville Blues,” with its hilarity: “I wish I was your turtledove.” Forty years ago wasn’t exactly ancient history, but the recordings are purely timeless. You need this one for your collection, at minimum for the sake of having a piece of newly archeologically discovered history. But more so, you’ll want it for the sheer liveliness of the recording.
Lauderdale’s new release, Time Flies, does commemorate the 40 years’ passage of time, with its slower rhythms and lower more bassified vocal tones reflecting more contemporary styles, even as the album retains many throwback and timeless features in terms of its lyrical style. Generations of production quality growth are evident in the distinct layers of sound, and this album features clarity thanks to Lauderdale’s co-production with Jay Weaver (the Mavericks). Lauderdale is backed by Chris Scruggs (who likely needs no introduction as Earl’s grandson, Gary Scruggs and Gail Davies‘ son, and one of Marty Stuart’s Superlatives) on multiple instruments including dobro; and Kenny Vaughan (another of Stuart’s Superlatives). The album is rounded out with Frank and Lillie Mae Rische singing backups, Robbie Crowell and Micah Hulscher on keys, pianos, and organ; Tommy Hannum on pedal steel, and guitarists Craig Smith, Jay Weaver; all held together by drummers Dave Racine and Matt Bohli.
“Time Flies” introduces the album with catchy arrangements and Lauderdale’s nostalgic lyric storytelling. and “Slow as Molasses” again appears as a timeless old style country song. On “While You’re Hoping,” you’ll be regaled by a swing beat and a guitar solo by Kenny Vaughn in between jubilant vocal proclamations. And then on “Wearing Out Your Cool,” there’s Robbie Crowell on sax, Chris Scruggs on steel, and a shuffle beat. The album is totally pro from start to finish and is a requisite member of your collection just waiting for you to swoop it up.
Lauderdale has been credited for a lifetime of great songwriting, and this album continues the trajectory. Own both of these albums for yourself, here. http://www.jimlauderdale.com/