REVIEW: Jim Lauderdale – ‘This Changes Everything’

14433197_10157513576335331_4273940502294002787_nThe host of the recent Americana Honours and Awards show Jim Lauderdale returns with ‘This Changes Everything’, his 29th studio album. He has hosted the awards show for 14 of its 15 years. He is often referred to as a ‘songwriter’s songwriter’, and it was testament to the respect shown in the industry that George Strait appeared on stage at the awards show and sang ‘The King Of Broken Hearts’, a top 5 hit for Strait written by Lauderdale. There were a number of options. George Strait has recorded 14 of Lauderdale’s songs throughout his career. Strait also presented the prestigious ‘Wagon Master Award’ to Lauderdale on the same stage.

His songs have been sung by many of his peers including Vince Gill, The Dixie Chicks, Patti Loveless, George Jones and quite a few others. He may not be a household name here in the UK but his influence on country music should not be underestimated. He has not had the commercial success that he deserves. His talents as a song writer have brought him greater rewards.

‘This Changes Everything’ is a traditional country album. It is also an album that tips its hat to the music that emanates from Texas. Lauderdale is from North Carolina but throughout his career he has regularly diversified. His last album ‘Soul Searching’, as the title suggests, explores the southern soul influences on blues and country. He has also covered bluegrass and southern rock.

He states that he had “gathered songs up that I had co-written with Texas writers or that somehow had a Texas thread or connection. I wanted to make a country record that you could hear in a Texas dance hall or club. It was a wild ride.” It was a project that was recorded in one day and features the assorted talent of musicians that someone of Lauderdale’s reputation and standing can attract.

The collection of songs were all written or partly written by Jim Launderdale and are all classic country. Not all are new. He has included the song that Strait took into the top 5, ‘We Really Shouldn’t Be Doing This’, in the late nineties.

An obvious highlight is the title track that opens up the project. A foot-tapper with signature sumptuous steel guitar from Tommy Detamore that immediately hits the spot and gives you that absolute authenticity that you would expect. His band are all mainstays in the Texas music scene. Kevin Smith plays bass for Willie Nelson. Chris Masterson plays electric guitar for Steve Earle and Bobby Flores is Ray Price’s fiddle player.

They all came together to produce an album that is steeped in country music tradition. You don’t perform at the Grand Ole Opry 125 times without having the ability to add authenticity to a country music project. The Texas influence didn’t extend solely to the use of Texan musicians. Lauderdale has co-written with Texan recording artists. Hayes Carll contributed to ‘Drive’ which has a rootsy cowboy vibe and Bruce Robinson on ‘There Is An Horizon’ and ‘This Changes Everything’.

If you enjoyed the recent Mark Chesnutt record, you should also find a lot to enjoy here.