Time Flies

Jim Lauderdale

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Time Flies Review

by Mark Deming

Jim Lauderdale's music often walks a line between past and present as his muse escorts him from bluegrass-influenced acoustic sessions to full-band recordings that find room for retro and contemporary sounds. So Time Flies is an inspired name for an album from Lauderdale, and fittingly enough, it makes room for several varieties of the music he loves. The title cut is a contemporary country number that could find a place on commercial radio if more traditional sounds ever come back into style, and "The Road Is a River" and "It Blows My Mind" show he isn't averse to rocking out sometimes. "Violet" and "Where the Cars Go by Fast" are cool and atmospheric tunes suitable for listening late at night. "Wearing Out Your Cool" is a slinky exercise in blues with a rockabilly accent, and "If the World's Still Here Tomorrow" is a charming throwback to Nashville's countrypolitan era. "Slow as Molasses" finds the sweet spot where bluegrass and honky tonk music overlap, and "While You're Hoping" is a shuffle in the grand tradition that isn't afraid to turn up the heat. What ties all these elements together is Jim Lauderdale's tremendous talent: his vocals are superb on every track; his songwriting is smart and down to earth, and never misses the target; and his production gives the performances a warm, crisp sound that serves the songs well without getting in the way. And the studio crew that helped Lauderdale put this on tape -- including Chris Scruggs, Kenny Vaughn, and Craig Smith on guitars; Jay Weaver on bass; Robbie Crowell on keyboards; and Tommy Hannum on pedal steel -- are up to the challenge of interpreting Lauderdale's many stylistic moods. Despite his busy release schedule, Jim Lauderdale seems incapable of making an album that isn't heartfelt, well crafted, and thoroughly engaging, and Time Flies is further proof that he's making some of the best country music in the 2010s.

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