Jim Lauderdale is both eclectic and prolific, working steadfastly within the Americana/ roots field, recording and releasing a slew of projects with everyone from bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley to jam band Donna the Buffalo. In his latest incarnation, he has simultaneously released two projects, one, Country Super Hits, Vol. 1, delving into classic honky tonk, the other, Bluegrass, delving deeply into country music's most rustic subgenre. On the first of these outings, Lauderdale shares co-writing credits with Odie Blackmon, Leslie Satcher, and Shawn Camp on a lucky 13, drawing deep from country music's roots. The "classic" sound is greatly aided by the ache in Lauderdale's vocals -- he sounds like a country boy -- and full-band arrangements that include steel, fiddle, and piano. What's the biggest difference between Lauderdale's country and yesteryear's? His lyrics, while generally mimicking older themes, avoid country's more absurd moments and metaphors (though "I Met Jesus in a Bar" comes close). Lauderdale and company also offer a roots sound that has more in common with neo-traditional honky tonk (think '80s) country than Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell. This is a roundabout way of saying that Country Super Hits, Vol. 1 will never be confused with contemporary country, but neither will it be confused with the rustic sounds of Ernest Tubb. Yes, a song like "She's Got Some Magic Going On" does remind one of Buck Owens, but this is an exception. As with much of alternative country, there's always a question of whether the artist is repeating the past: classic honky tonk (from the '40s to the '80s), after all, is only an online order away. But alternative country fans will appreciate Lauderdale's refresher course on Country Super Hits, Vol. 1, and more than likely want to pick up the Bluegrass collection, too.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.