Jim Lauderdale / Donna the Buffalo
Wait 'Til Spring
First Appeared at The Music Box, August 2003, Volume 10, #8
Written by John Metzger
Jim Lauderdale is a rather prolific and well-respected artist who has performed on albums by Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Charlie Robison, and Lucinda Williams, while his songs have appeared on a myriad of recordings, including those by The Derailers, Dixie Chicks, John Mayall, and George Strait. In addition, he’s penned nearly 40 tunes with esteemed Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, and he just won his first Grammy Award for Lost in the Lonesome Pines, a collaboration with bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley. So what does Lauderdale do for an encore? He heads in a completely different direction by asking the roots-oriented jam band Donna the Buffalo to back him on his recent release Wait ’Til Spring.
For the record, there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking or earth-shattering about the disc’s eleven tracks. Each features Lauderdale’s typically solid lyrics set within the context of an earthy, classic rock-influenced arrangement. The blues-inflected Slow Motion Trouble recalls the Allman Brothers Band, Some Other Bayou sounds like a lost track from Little Feat, the jangly guitar of That’s Not the Way It Works draws directly from The Byrds, and there’s a Hendrixian air á la Little Wing that drifts through Ginger Peach. Not to mention, the manner in which Lauderdale delivers many of the songs cops significantly from the vocal style of Van Morrison.
Still — and this is what’s most important — his partnership with Donna the Buffalo is an amiable one, and together they turn Wait ’Til Spring into an intriguing effort that focuses on songs rather than slick grooves. Come to think of it, this is probably a new concept to the current fixtures of both the Nashville scene — which seems to be lost, once again, in some generic, pop-fueled haze — as well as the jam band scene — which seems to have forgotten what made groups such as the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band so durable. If Lauderdale can correct two mighty wrongs with just one outing, more power to him, and, if that doesn’t work, well, at least Wait ’Til Spring provides the perfect backdrop for a summer barbecue.
Wait 'Til Spring is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box