From Another World

Jim Lauderdale

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From Another World Review

by Mark Deming

In 1974, Merle Haggard released an LP called His 30th Album, which was indeed the 30th long-player he'd put out since his first in 1965. In those days, country artists didn't tinker with their recordings for weeks or months on end; they went into the studio, knocked out their latest tunes, and then went back on the road. Jim Lauderdale is one of the few artists working in country music who still works on something approaching this schedule; while his productivity is not up to Haggard's level, he's released at least one album each year from 2006 onward, and like Hag, he's a musician who can regularly deliver the product without losing sight of quality. 2019's From Another World is, like many of Lauderdale's albums, a grab bag of stylistically varied tunes whose unifying factors are their common allegiance to country traditions in some way and their impressive level of quality. There's a vague psychedelic accent on "Some Horses Run Free," "The Secrets of the Pyramids," and "Like People from Another World," but all of them boast enough twang to please roots music fans, and the rock & roll punch of "Ever Living Loving Day" and "When You Can't Have What Your Heart Wants" doesn't compromise their status as smart but evocative weepers. "Are You Trying to Make a Song Out of Us?" is in the great tradition of funny tunes about problematic relationships, but Lauderdale has also given it a funky foundation that makes it fit for dance floors at honky-tonks and elsewhere. If you just want to hear a straightforward country song in the traditionalist manner, "For Keeps" and "One Away" show that Lauderdale can still do that, and do it beautifully. As a songwriter, From Another World offers ample evidence that Lauderdale is as talented and consistent as he is prolific, with nary a dud among the dozen tracks featured here, and his singing is in a league with his songcraft -- emotional and evocative without sounding histrionic or inauthentic. Anyone who can make an album this good and genuinely enjoyable roughly every 12 months should be encouraged to do so, and giving From Another World a spin may well prompt Jim Lauderdale to stay on track and keep up the good work.

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