Jim Lauderdale & The Dream Players
Yep Roc Records
By James Calemine
North Carolina native Jim Lauderdale's new CD, Honey Songs, contains various musical styles indicative of Lauderdale's previous work. For Honey Songs, Lauderdale basically recruited Gram Parsons' old band--The Dream Players--James Burton, Al Perkins, Glen D. Hardin, Ron Tutt as well as Garry Tallent and Steve Sheehan.
Emmylou Harris, Patty Loveless, Kelly Hogan and Dawn Sears sing individual back-up parts on various tunes. The opening track, "Honeysuckle Honeypie", a slick-sounding up-tempo, two-minute plus composition that may be played during a rollicking show at Tootsie's or some other intimate tavern as an evening closer. Honey Songs was recorded in Nashville at Moondog Music.
"I Hope You're Happy" tells the tale of lost love behind a loping country swing that proves why Lauderdale always fit well in the Americana culture. "Hittin' It Hard" ranks as one of the best tracks, if not the best, on Honey Songs. "Hittin It Hard" could fit on a southern rock and roll record as the Sticky Fingers-country influence because it straddles any musical category.
The song, "It's Finally Sinking In" ranks as another fine composition with subtle licks played by The Dream Players creating a smooth sonic fluidity on a hard-truth narrative. "Borrow Some Summertime" emits a classic country sound with Burton's chicken-pickin licks and a lush pedal steel constructed around Lauderdale's last waltz lyrics.
"The Daughter of Majestic Sage", with its pedal steel backbone, flutter beat and various musical colorings paint a picture of some fair-haired beauty picking wildflowers on a mountain side. Lauderdale always tells a story, one way or another...
Straight from the George Jones heartbreak songbook, Lauderdale's song, "Molly's Got A Chain" represents what good, honest, traditional country music should sound like. When he sings "Molly's got a chain that she wants to give away", this tune will cause a few old boys to stare into their beer at a certain time of evening at the bar with melancholy reflection.
On "Those Kind of Things Don't Happen Every Day", Lauderdale's working-man voice and phrasing sells this song without mentioning the precise musical touches rendered by some of the world's greatest musicians. "Sting Ray" sounds like a fast run to the black jack tables in Las Vegas, gripped by a red-eyed money fever.
"I'm Almost Back" removes any doubt that the foundation of Lauderdale's music operates in the traditional country music vein. Honey Songs will surely attract those enjoy sweet soul country music...