Jim Lauderdale — Hope
Lauderdale who is a legend and staple of the Nashville singer songwriter scene and world for over three decades and 34 albums, and who is greatly overlooked by the mainstream media, has taken a different direction in what most people in the know have come to expect from him. It’s a direction motivated by the isolation of the pandemic and Lauderdale’s hopeful response to the “new now.” With this latest release Lauderdale has moved into a more modern sound from what he is traditionally known for in his journey in the roots, blues, bluegrass, country, and folk genres. Which isn’t a bad thing.
Some of the songs on Lauderdale’s latest portray the challenges and feelings that many have felt in the time since we all experienced the isolation and loneliness of the pandemic and then there are other songs that portray lessons learned, gratitude, and new perspectives on positivity for the future.
Without the knowledge of Lauderdale’s creative process, it is up to the listener to take what Lauderdale has provided and translate it into their own life. And there are plenty of opportunities to experience melancholy, loss, and joy in what feels like Lauderdale pouring out his soul for the world to hear.
Songs such as “The Opportunity To Help Somebody Through it,” “Sister Horizon,” “Here’s To Hoping” and “Joyful Noise” are all upbeat tunes that reflect an uplifting, encouraging, and appreciative take to the current state of our lives and of what the future could hold. “Sister Horizon” features a smoking’ guitar solo by Russ Pahl.
“The Opportunity to Help Somebody Through It” notably accentuates the idea that we can reach outside outselves and help others, a nice change from chronic introspection, and a signal for the direction the album takes.
Songs such as “Memory” (co-written with Robert Hunter), “Don’t You Dream Anymore,” “We Fade In We Fade Out,” and “When Searching For Answers” portrays the darker side of being sad, lonely, and reflective.
“Memory” is rich with pedal steel and is a poignant song of loss, with lyrics like “long live the mornings after waking from sweet dreams … long live the gravel path that led me to our door. I’m glad to live another day, your memory helps to pave the way.”
“Brave One” is the real stand out as it was written to portray and honor the front line workers who have been there since day one during the pandemic with very little recognition.
Remaining tracks include: “The Brighter Side Of Lonely,” “Mushrooms Are Growing After The Rain,” “Breathe Real Slow,” and “It’s Almost More Than All The Joy.” Song titles that pretty much speak for themselves.
Lauderdale is backed up with a plethora of Nashville heavy hitters including Chris Scruggs on mandolin, electric and steel guitars, Wes L’Anglois on acoustic guitar, Jim Hoke on keys, saxophone and clarinet, Jay Weaver on bass, Dave Racine on drums and percussion, Kenny Vaughan on electric guitar, Will Van Horn on pedal steel, Frank Rische on acoustic guitar, Pat Bubert on drums and percussion, Russ Pahl on electric and acoustic guitars, Micah Hulscher on keys and piano, Craig Smith on electric and acoustic guitars, and background vocals by brother and sister team Lillie Mae and Frank Rische.
“Hope” released on Yep Roc records was produced by Lauderdale and Jay Weaver and recorded at Blackbird Studios. All tracks were written by Lauderdale or co-written by Demi Marriner, Robbie Cavanagh, Robert Hunter, Odie Blackmon, and Lady Goodman. The 13-track release with a run time of 45 minutes and 45 seconds has plenty of Lauderdale for the audiophiles.
The CD is basic in its physical design and delivery. A dou-fold with included two-page booklet which has the track listings, writing credits, and artists playing on every track. There are no song lyrics included. The saving grace is the beautiful cover art paintings by Maureen Hunter.
In listening to Hope one feels that they are listening to the audio version of Lauderdale’s diary from his perspective in the past year. It’s as hopeful as its title. It’s a perspective that has credibility and is worth listening to if only because he touches all of us in one way or another with these songs.
“Hope” can be found at https://yeproc.11spot.com/jim-lauderdale-hope.html, Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart, and all streaming music sites.