Preview London Southern by Jim Lauderdale.
London Southern by Jim Lauderdale
If we Brits need a test of our Americana credentials, a top rated US artist recording an album here must rank highly. London Southern, mostly recorded with Nick Lowe’s band at Goldtop Studio in London, is a beautifully polished collection of songs that reflects Jim Lauderdale’s mastery of styles from upbeat honky-tonking to velvety crooning. This is Lauderdale’s 29th album and it shows why he has been described as a ‘songwriter’s songwriter’.
The association with Nick Lowe goes back to 1994 and 1995 when Lauderdale was Lowe’s support act. Working together again has been a long-held aim for Lauderdale, not just with the band but the album’s producers, Neil Brockbank and Bobby irwin (who has sadly passed away).
After a few listens to a new album I find a favourite emerges quite soon. London Southern has been round several times and I still haven't picked out a winner. That’s not because there isn't one but purely because of the record’s exceptionally high quality content, musicianship and production. It’s end to end and to fully appreciate Lauderdale’s versatility, that’s how you should listen to London Southern.
First up is "Sweet Time," that immediately brings to mind Vince Gill. Lauderdale weaves his clear lyrics through the easily paced rhythm section and some gently tinkling keys. A cracking start. The pace slow right down with the out and out crooner, "I Love You More." The string arrangement adds a further dimension. Third track brings in a third style with "We've Only Got So Much Time Here." It has a pop feel; a catchy tune so professionally done with some perfect trumpet, sax and guitar solo. It’s all there. The clarity of Lauderdale's voice with a trio of background vocals comes to the fore in "What Have You Got to Lose." "If I Can’t Resist" is probably the furthest this record gets from anything that could be described as Americana, instead think Chris Isaak!
"Don’t Let Yourself Get In The Way" is the record’s singalong track; good single material. "No Right Way To Be Wrong" gets the record back to more familiar territory (shades of Waylon Jennings?). "Different Kind of Groove Some Time," co-written with John Oates is just a pure love song with more luxuriant sax, the latter continuing into "I Can’t Do Without You." These are probably the records fullest songs, they bring together all the parts featured elsewhere. Lauderdale then rounds off the album on a more upbeat tone; "Don't Shut Me Down" and "This is A Door." Both, certainly the final song, show the link to Nick Lowe.
Usually record reviews should highlight the best and not so good songs rather than go through the entire playlist from start to finish. London Southern is such a complete album that to leave anything out would be doing it and Jim Lauderdale a great disservice. If you are still with me dear reader, I seek your forgiveness but take the same approach to this fine album and you won't be disappointed.