Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Patchwork River--Second Hunter Lauderdale Collaboration

Former Grateful Dead lyricist, Robert Hunter, has partnered with twice-Grammy-award-winning singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale for the second time. And, for the second time, the team offer us an opportunity to take a musical journey through life mostly lived and now remembered--romance, regrets, love, questions unanswered, dreams not realized and an assortment of memories gathered in the quest of living life to the fullest.

Somehow, I always get the feeling that Robert Hunter is teaching us about history and the American culture in his lyrics. A man who loves the work of Rilke, and who has even managed a rhyming translation of some of Rilke's work doesn't just write songs that fill the spaces between the notes. That kind of writer has something bigger to say; if you pay attention, you'll get all of the lessons and you'll garner yourself a gold star for effort.

However, the greatest reward for going on this journey through Patchwork River is listening to Lauderdale's singing.

If you're used to his Grammy-award-winning bluegrass singing, you'll be surprised to hear Jim's delivery of the blues-like knockout, "Alligator Alley". It will slide right by you, if you don't pay attention, so pay attention. How about the humorous "Turn To Stone" with a chorus you'll want to sing along to, while you chuckle about your own teen-aged experiences with trying to talk to someone that you were infatuated with? Having heard Lauderdale sing this one live at one of his 2010 Merlefest performances, I can attest to the addictive quality of the chorus. I sang along all the way through!

There are also several slower waltzes on the new CD. Try "Good Together", "Tall Eyes", "Far In the Far Away" and my personal favorite "Between Your Heart and Mine" with your special someone. But don't let the music carry you away--the lyrics are all about life lessons and might hit home with those of us who've lived a few years past the newlywed years.

In their first collaboration, "Headed For the Hills", it was the musicianship that stood out. The best of the best of vocalists and instrumentalists bringing their best together for the sake of the song. This CD is cleaner and simpler, seeming to focus more on the singing with Lauderdale's voice right up front, and back up vocals from people who usually lead the singing. Think Patti Griffin, folks!

If you've ever dreamed a movie for your life that included a man, a woman, a worn down bar with a small band playing while you dance with your lover, then you've got a pretty good idea of where these 13 songs will take you.

A couple of lines from the song, "Patchwork River" to whet your appetite,

What you do for love alone will last;
the rest just clutters up your past.

Today is the official release date for Patchwork River, which can be purchased at amazon.com and all the usual outlets. You can also buy the CD at any of Jim Lauderdale's performance venues. For a list of upcoming tour dates, click here, although you may not want to wait for a concert to buy the CD. This Hunter-Lauderdale gem of a musical adventure is even more worthy of seeking out sooner, because of the cover artwork by Tim Truman. Tim is an illustrator who has designed many of the CD covers for The Grateful Dead, Hot Tuna and Carlos Santana.


If you've never heard of Jim Lauderdale, this is a video example of how beautifully he sings. This song is from his CD, "Honey Songs". I believe that it's one of the most beautiful country songs ever written.

On the CD he sings this with the vocal harmonies of Emmylou Harris. Try singinging this one all alone, with only the strumming of your guitar. He is just amazing! See what you think.

You can also buy the new CD from Jim's own store at http://jimlauderdale.com/index.htm?id=17572