Reason and Rhyme

[Sugar Hill]

Jim Lauderdale is the Pixar of Americana: Like the animation giant, he’s had such a winning streak of releases that one can’t help but look for chinks in the armor whenever he resurfaces with a new project (of which there have been many). Fortunately, Reason and Rhyme, his 20th full-length and fourth bluegrass album in as many years, won’t go down in history as his Cars 2-esque fall-off point. Collaborating with lyricist Robert Hunter for a third time, Lauderdale once again proves that he’s long since hit upon the perfect blend of honky-tonk and high lonesome with this briskly paced set of 11 originals. (Credit must also go to producer Randy Kohrs, who provides solid resonator guitar and harmony vocals throughout.) Hearing his warm, relaxed vocals on the childlike “Tiger & the Monkey,” it’s easy to hope that Lauderdale’s winning streak never ends. —Jesse Thompson

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