Patchwork River

[Thirty Tigers]

Veteran singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale collaborated with legendary Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter for Patchwork River, and the result is a lovably twisted genre piece. Always an evocative singer, Lauderdale clearly relishes biting off existential verses such as “What do you get when you cross the street against the light with a cyclone fence?” In the best Dead tradition, Lauderdale and Hunter’s songs vividly conjure up a sense of time and place. The dusty-sounding “El Dorado” evokes the arid landscape of Twentynine Palms, “Louisville Roll” transplants a slow-cooking Memphis groove to the shores of the Ohio River, and the Cosmic American sound of “Far in the Far Away” could have been cooked up in Gram Parsons’ old motel room at Joshua Tree (thanks in part to former Parsons sidemen Al Perkins on steel and James Burton on guitar). In his unassuming fashion, Lauderdale has turned in another delicious set of tunes whose roots run commendably deep.

–Bob Cannon

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