Jim Lauderdale & Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys, I Feel Like Singing Today

Madelyn Rosenberg

By Madelyn Rosenberg

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

I Feel Like Singing Today

Jim Lauderdale & Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys

On the title track of this album, Nashville stalwart Jim Lauderdale sounds a bit like the eager schoolboy: hair combed, dressed up in his finest suit (albeit a Nudie), standing at the front of the classroom, ready to show his master all he's learned. It soon becomes apparent, though, that Lauderdale has already earned himself a Ph.D. His songs, all written with bluegrass icon Stanley's beautifully haunting tenor in mind, are adept and authentic: put a vintage tune — "Maple on the Hill," a traditional version of which appears here — next to Lauderdale's "Another Sinner's Prayer," add a few atmospheric scratches, and it would be hard to date them based on listening alone.

Stanley's backing band the Clinch Mountain Boys contribute some nice solos and harmonies, but the vocal star is Stanley himself; he's always been able to come under the lead and make everything blend right no matter who's singing with him. As Stanley ages, his voice, which has long embodied the expression "high lonesome sound," enters its eerie prime; it's no wonder that a cappella numbers like the new gospel tune "Like Him" (where Lauderdale demonstrates his own ability to hold a high note) are some of the album's finest. Songs from the canon, particularly "This World Is Not My Home," receive top-notch treatment alongside newer tunes like "Who Thought the Railroad Wouldn't Last" and "Another Sinner's Prayer," with its layered, adrenaline-building chorus.

A number of fine musicians have called themselves Clinch Mountain Boys over the years; with this album, Lauderdale becomes one of them.