Jim Lauderdale – London Southern (Proper Records)

Genre – Country rock

Jim Lauderdale has had a decorated career. Most recently he was awarded the Wagonmaster Award at the US Americana Honors & Awards – a special lifetime achievement honour reserved for the most valuable contributors to the course and history of the format.

As well as numerous accolades, Jim’s musical output puts many to shame with over 25 studio albums release in a career spanning three decades. Despite this incredible outpouring of music, London Southern takes him on a new direction, being the first album to be recorded in London.

Teaming up with producers Neil Brockbank and Bobby Irwin, along with Nick Lowe’s hugely talented band, Lauderdale headed to Goldtop studios (owned by Nick Lowe) and the ‘songwriter’s songwriter’ has produced a beautiful blend of soft country rock infused with the Americana vibes that he’s spent a career pioneering.

Lauderdale’s southern style vocals marry with the eclectic sounds of his collaborating band to create an album that offers a relaxing, cathartic vibe, rich with the soul of Americana.

Tracks like We Only Get So Much Time Here and I Can’t Resist see subtle finger picking and an array of percussion that captures the audience and brings this wonderfully soft album to life. Lauderdale’s song writing ability cannot be understated in this production, with his exquisite wordplay and vivid rhetoric adding another dimension to these tracks.

Sly voiced Lauderdale may offer the quick witted wordplay that country rock adores, but Southern London also draws in the honesty that is central to the genre in I Love You More Than I Let On. This personal, soulful outpouring sees Lauderdale pull a few heartstrings as he delivers emotionally raw vocals, in a passionate country ballad that has a strong jazz guitar presence throughout.

On the whole, London Southern is a beautifully balanced album. Lauderdale’s story telling ability is summed up by his ability to end a song with the punch that the beginning and middle deserve. He’s doesn’t drag anything out, and every song just feels right. Although this isn’t the most original country rock / Americana album you’ll hear this year, it will definitely stand shoulder to shoulder with the best, as an effortlessly brilliant piece of work by a gentleman of the genre.

RUSHONROCK RATED – 8/10 An honest, passionate, soulful album awash with humility.