It’s hard to keep up with Jim Lauderdale. The man who knows Americana music when he hears it — and used to declare so every year at the Americana Music Awards — has an ear for purity of expression over a wide range of musical styles, and he listens closely to the heartbeat of life, capturing human emotions in simple but powerful lyrics.
Lauderdale’s songs derive their power from their brevity —he’s not interested in belaboring a point, getting in and out of a song in just under three minutes much of the time — and his repetition of key words and phrases. Knowing we have such a brief time to inhabit the songs, Lauderdale creates emotional power through that repetition, building layer upon layer of word and sound as the songs circle toward their climax.
“Ever Living Loving Day” opens with a piercing and mournful lead lick before opening into a spacious country moaner that also echoes the canyon rock of The Byrds and Poco. A sparkling pedal steel kicks off the title track, opening into a dialogue between the piano and pedal steel that mimics the meeting between the singer and his lover. Lillie Mae and Frank Rische’s background vocals respond to Lauderdale’s lead vocals, enacting a musical play between “people from another world.” The album opens with the jangly psychedelic rock of “Some Horses Run Free,” while it closes with the funked-up rocker “Are You Trying to Make a Fool Out of Me?”
Several songs on From Another World try to look beyond the veils of time and space to plumb the mysteries of the ancients, likening, of course, the inscrutableness of love to the secrets buried in ancient tombs. Dylan’s “Life’s Back Pages” provides the sonic melodic layer floating under “The Secrets of the Pyramid,” in which the singer pleads: “The secrets of the pyramid / Don’t have nothing on you / I need the answers that you hold / Hold me in your truth.” The doubling of the final “hold” of the penultimate sentence followed by the opening word of the final sentence in the verse plays on dual meaning of the word.
From Another World once again illustrates Jim Lauderdale’s overflowing creativity, his genius at matching melody and harmony with lyrics, and his ceaseless curiosity in exploring diverse musical styles.
Read our story on Jim Lauderdale’s tai chi practice and the song it inspired on From Another World here.