Fresh off of a 2006 Grammy nomination for his last bluegrass album Bluegrass and an earlier Grammy win in 2002 for his album Lost In the Lonesome Pines with Ralph Stanley, country music's most prolific songwriter Jim Lauderdale is back again with his next batch of high and lonesome hallmarks. The Bluegrass Diaries is the first of three albums the Nashville legend will release of the course of the next year. After releasing two albums in 2006, the man Nashville has come to know as the quintessential "songwriter's songwriter" is still constantly writing, recording and collaborating, resulting in this legendary output of top notch gems. Music seems to flow from the very pores of the man who has penned hits for some of country music's most chart-topping superstars including The Dixie Chicks, George Jones, George Strait, Vince Gill and Patti Loveless. The Bluegrass Diaries picks up where Bluegrass left off allowing Lauderdale to indulge in his passion for intricate picking and foot stompin' with his friends. The album includes Jesse Cobb on Mandolin, Richard Bailey on Banjo, Jay Weaver on bass, Cody Kilby on guitar and Aaron Till on fiddle as well as many other special guests. On The Bluegrass Diaries Lauderdale blends bluegrass chops with his signature turn of phrase. At root, the album is a metaphor for Lauderdale's entire career; switchblade-sharp, honest and starkly American. Digipak.
To Nashville's way of thinking, Jim Lauderdale is a sturdy wild onion, sprouting in a bed of safe petunias. Since the early '90s, when his eccentric songs provided hits for such mainstream royalty as George Strait, the Dixie Chicks, and George Jones, he has been revered as a songwriter, even as his own albums were too left-field for commercial success. Undaunted, the North Carolina native simply dedicated himself to making the best music he could, category be damned. One Grammy win later (for his collaboration with Ralph Stanley, Lost in the Lonesome Pines
), he's still pursuing the high-lonesome heritage that he framed so rightly on the Grammy-nominated Bluegrass
(2006). Now The Bluegrass Diaries
, the first of three albums to be released over nine months (the others find him paired with guitar god James Burton and with the Grateful Dead's Robert Hunter), again finds him forging his trademark quirky melodies, and moaning, leaping, bending, and stuttering his aching mountain tenor into an intoxicating vocal confession. Joined by singer/guitarist Shawn Camp on their own "Looking for a Good Place to Land" and Cia Cherryholmes on "I Wanted to Believe" (as well as a cache of lightning-fast pickers led by producer Randy Kohrs), Lauderdale hews out another memorable collection of hangdog songs of miserable love ("I Wanted to Believe"), gospel redemption ("Can We Find Forgiveness"), and wry situational experience ("One Blue Mule"). Don't miss the fiery instrumental coda on the album's closer, "Ain't No Way to Run," written by the unlikely team of Melba Montgomery, J.D. Souther, and Lauderdale himself. --Alanna Nash