33 studio album just states that you had a massive career so far. Even though Jim Lauderdale was likely more successful on the songwriting side, he is an essential part of the Nashville country music and especially bluegrass scene. In March 2020, he released “When Carolina Comes Home Again” – time to review this record.
Jim Lauderdale – About The Artist
James Russel Lauderdale was born in Troutman, North Carolina on 11th April 1957. He he is multi-genre singer-songwriter, majorly on the country / Bluegrass and Blues side. His parents both have a strong religious, but also musical background. During his youth years, which he spent in South Carolina, he learned to play the drums, the harmonica and the banjo. After college, he had a first phase of living in Nashville and trying to get a record deal, but as things did not turn out well for him, he moved to New York. In the Big Apple, he started some solo gigs as well as playing in the Floyd Domino band. He had some minor record deals, also when he moved on to Los Angeles. Finally, Lauderdale even started his own record label in 2013.
Until that time, he already had released a large number of albums. However, most of them were rather unsuccessful. In the early 2010s, two albums recorded with Robert Hunter made it to the Bluegrass charts. His highest chart placement on the singles charts was his 1988 Stay Out of My Arms, which ranked 86th in the US country charts. However, Lauderdale was very successful as a songwriter, mainly writing for George Strait, but also for Lee An Womack or Blake Shelton. An amazing fact to underline Jim Lauderdale’s career is that When Carolina Comes Home Again is his 33rd studio album.
Jim Lauderdale – When Carolina Comes Home Again – Track by Track
The album contains 13 songs. It lasts 43 minute.
1. When Carolina Comes Home Again
The album starts with the title track, which just has vocals and very limited guitar play at the beginning, but then becomes a quite speedy title. That part feels a bit too much to be though, the guitars tend to play a melody which does not suit the vocals to me.
2. As a Sign
While I felt that the title track is a bit out of harmony, As a sign offers a very clear and classic country-bluegrass sound. A quick and rhythmic track, love to listen to it – that’s the chorus, by the way:
The sun shines on borrowed time
No brighter than the moon
I’ll take that as a sign
Too much, too late, too soon
3. Misery’s Embrace
Jim Lauderdale did well on the second track (in my point of view) – and so he did on the third as well. Misery’s Embrace is just what people think classic country sound. Lauderdale’s voice sounds quite young in his songs, by the way.
4. The Last to Know
The fourth song is on the slower side, so I was a curious whether I like that Lauderdale sound as well – and I have to say: yeah, it’s cool. Feels very direct and intimate – I just love to listen to him.
5. It Takes One to Wonder
If you imagine a good, old Western movie, people sitting on the their barstools, swaying to and fro and bobbing their feet up and down in the rhythm of the music – It Takes One to Wonder would just be ideal soundtrack for a melancholic evening. It may feel old-fashioned, but the song is a good sound and just makes me smile while listening to it.
Cackalacky is a quicker song and one of the best ones of the album to me. By the way, if you don’t know this Cacky-whatever word: it is a slang word for the two Carolina States.
7. You’ll Have to Earn It
In this seventh track, the fiddle plays a bit of a stronger role. Very nice country/bluegrass sound again. If you love traditional country, When Carolina Comes Home Again will make you fall in love with Lauderdale (if you not already are so…).
8. You’ve Got This
One thing I felt when I was listening to these songs in the middle of the album: Jim Lauderdale is also just great in setting up the album. There are quicker songs and slower ones, the character of the songs varies from song to song. So, you just don’t feel bored. You’ve Got This has a nice touch – I feel like dancing.
Did I mention to say that I don’t like bluegrass too much? Damn, I am more and more changing my mind while listening to these 43 minutes of music. Even though Mountaineer is not my favorite track of the album, I definitely enjoy to listen to it.
10. I’m Here to Remind You
The tenth track is again on the slower side. Nice listening to, again…
I love the steel guitar – and Moonrider has quite strong steel guitar elements. Very classic sound again, but a cool track which really makes you feel the ride. Nice!
12. Spin a Yarn
Back on the speedy and rhythmic side – if you want to dance to that, you definitely need to wear your speedy boots.
13. Better Than You Found It
Better Than You Found It has one of the nicest melodies of the album and also feels to be one of the most modern tracks to me. A nice finish of the stories from Carolina.
Jim Lauderdale – When Carolina Comes Home Again – Spotify
Here is the Spotify link to pre-listen to the album:
Jim Lauderdale – When Carolina Comes Home Again – My View
Though I like country music, I am just not too much into Bluegrass and the other traditional sounds. Jim Lauderdale is delivering this kind of country – and I just have to say: well done, Jim – just a nice album! I was afraid that I was tired after listening to it for the first time – but in fact, it ran in parallel to my mobile office and I enjoyed a couple of loops until I finally started with the review. Bad luck that Jim Lauderdale is not getting the chart credit he deserves – When Carolina Comes Home Again is definitely a good piece of work.