Album Review: Jim Lauderdale – Patchwork River

Jim Caligiuri | May 25th, 2010

jim-lauderdale-patchwork-riverTwenty years into his recording career and, for many, Jim Lauderdale remains an acquired taste. Patchwork River isn’t likely to change that, although it’s not for a lack of trying.

Never one to shy away from unexpected collaboration, Patchwork River finds him again working with Robert Hunter, best known as a lyricist for the Grateful Dead. The duo previously wrote together for Lauderdale releases in the early part of this decade, with Hunter contributing to Lost In The Lonesome Pines (a joint effort with Ralph Stanley), and The Hummingbirds (both from 2002), as well as co-writing all the songs on 2004’s Headed For The Hills.

Patchwork River is much more of a rock record than their previous work. At times, it sounds almost like a Grateful Dead album, filled with tricky lyrics and grooves in the roots-rock tradition–especially on the title track. There’s a soulful feel that expands Lauderdale’s sound with tunes like the horn-laden “Louisville Roll” and “Good Together.” For country fans, there’s “Far In The Far Away” and “Between Your Heart And Mine,” both of which, with a little luck, will show up on a future George Strait album.

The disc ends with its strongest song: “My Lips Are Sealed”–a shuffle with a killer hook and dark undercurrents–is edgy, heartfelt and prime Lauderdale.

His faithful will find lots to like on Patchwork River, and Deadheads will enjoy giving it a twirl, but it’s just as likely those with more catholic tastes will remain unconverted.

3 Stars

  1. Leeann Ward
    May 25, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    This hasn’t turned out to be one of my favorite Lauderdale albums. I’d give it 3 stars too. My favorite albums of his have been his bluegrass projects, particularly with Ralph Stanley, though I like his country albums as well.

  2. Jon
    May 25, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    If Lauderdale and Hunter collaborated “again,” why would it be “unexpected?”

  3. jim c
    May 25, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    If Jon says something on the internet, why does anyone “pay attention”?

  4. Razor X
    May 25, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Why is this review so short?

  5. Jon
    May 25, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Nothing unexpected in Smilin’ Jim’s argument ad hominem, is there?

  6. Rick
    May 25, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    I really like Jim as a songwriter and when other artists cover his songs, like say Sunny Sweeney or Mandy Barnett. I also really liked the music video for “She’s Lookin’ At Me” that featured Allison Moorer back before she became Mrs. Earle. But that’s about it…

  7. Steve Harvey
    May 25, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Definitely Lauderdale’s most rock’n’roll leaning record. I love the title track and the rest of the record’s been growing on me.

    He remains one of my favourite country vocalists working today.

    I think Hunter’s one of Lauderdale’s most productive collaborations, along with Odie Blackman.

  8. Jim Malec
    May 26, 2010 at 2:00 am

    If something unexpected happens once, that does not mean that it is expected to happen again.

  9. Jon
    May 26, 2010 at 6:52 am

    Once?! Even before this release, Hunter and Lauderdale had collaborated on a full album plus an assortment of cuts on 3 more projects (one of which, not unexpectedly, Smilin’ Jim missed), all in the last 8 years. In fact, Hunter’s been a more frequent (or at least frequently recorded) co-writer in the past decade than anyone other than Odie Blackmon, and was even before this release.

  10. merlefan49
    May 26, 2010 at 7:18 am

    My favorite Laurerdale cd is “Headed For The Hills” I also love his work with Ralph Stanley

  11. Jim Malec
    May 26, 2010 at 7:26 am

    To quote Chis N: *facepalm*

  12. Paul W Dennis
    May 26, 2010 at 7:35 am

    As noted Jim Lauderdale (like Todd Snider) is an acquired taste. I really like Lauderdale (and never acquired a taste for Snider)so I would rate this a little higher – perhaps 3.5 stars. Still, I would regard this as his weakest album thus far

  13. Jim C
    May 26, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Not sure if I REALLY want this to continue, but perhaps (doubtful) an explanation is in order.

    Lauderdale and Hunter haven’t worked together since 2004. Could we expect them to work together again? Perhaps, maybe not. Lauderdale works with a lot of people. Who knows what collaboration he’ll revive next. I vote for a disc with Buddy Miller. But that’s just me.

    Now, will JW STFU? doubtful.

  14. Jon
    May 26, 2010 at 7:56 am

    The point is that this collaboration isn’t unexpected, making the observation that Lauderdale doesn’t shy away from unexpected collaborations irrelevant, while the subsequent “again” underlined the point in a comical way. Seems like the writer’s and/or the editor’s internal alarm bells should have gone off but didn’t, and I thought that was kind of funny.

  15. Jon
    May 26, 2010 at 8:09 am

    @Jim C Lauderdale and Hunter haven’t worked together since 2004.

    If you had bothered to notice where I pointed out earlier that you missed a project, you might have avoided embarrassing yourself still further.

    This is getting funnier and funnier.

  16. Jim Malec
    May 26, 2010 at 8:14 am

    What’s bizarre to me is that when we publish something with a genuine error or problem (which does happen occasionally, like at any publication), I hear about it quickly and from a number of sources. I get emails, phone calls and comments on the article itself. However, when Jon replies to comments pointing out how poor our writing and editing supposedly is, he’s usually the only one who notices the supposed “problem.” Is Jon smarter, more observant and more skilled as an editor than the rest of our readership? Perhaps. Perhaps he is. Perhaps.

  17. Jim C
    May 26, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Is it poor writing and editing or are we dealing with an idiot whose goal in life is to point out the smallest nits to pick on?

    FWIW- JW and I have a long history of let’s say seeing things differently. As anyone who’s tried to engage him on his idiocy on this site knows, he can be slippery and frustrating, resulting in the inevitable *facepalm*. He doesn’t see things the way 99% of the rest of us do. I, for one, am sorry he found this site. Experience tells me that eventually he’ll drive people away with his ridiculousness and in the end he will make visiting here less enjoyable. Am I calling for an out right ban? Hardly. But please keep in mind: you can’t win, engage him at peril of your own sanity and he will ALWAYS have the last word.

    Funny, huh?

  18. Razor X
    May 26, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Is it poor writing and editing or are we dealing with an idiot whose goal in life is to point out the smallest nits to pick on?

    Do we get to vote on this? Because if so, I’m going with the second choice.

  19. Jon
    May 26, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Or you could have just let the comment go unremarked upon in the first place…

  20. Lucas
    May 26, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Peace be with you, and also with you.

  21. Kelly
    May 26, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Well, Jon and Jim C have annoyed me to great lengths many times on this site, but, I do enjoy Jim C’s writing and enjoyed this review. I’ve been on the fence about giving this album a real shot, and this review has compelled me to finally to do so…

  22. sam (sam)
    May 26, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    I think Jim C’s response to Jon’s original comment about “unepectedness” is childish, mean-spirited, immature, and unprofessional.

  23. nm
    May 26, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    I’d rather avoid all the meta-criticism here, but it prompted me to reread the OP. And if I wanted an obvious target for nit-pickiness it wouldn’t be “unexpected,” it would be “catholic.” I just wanna know why “those with more catholic tastes” — which, according to common and dictionary usage, ought to mean “those who have wide-ranging, inclusive, not narrow or provincial tastes” — would be less likely to enjoy any given musical work than those who are fans only of a subset of music. That does puzzle me some.

  24. TallAl
    May 26, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Jon’s comments may be nit-picky, but editors, historians, etal., are usually concerned with details, how words are used, etc. On the other hand, I don’t remember seeing him make the personally directed attacks that have come out from the two Jim’s in the last couple of days.

  25. Leeann Ward
    May 26, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    I don’t condone some of the name calling and personal attacks that I’ve seen on this thread, but I will say that Jon holds his own in that department. He’s definitely not an innocent, wilting flower. He knows how to sling the insults with the best of ‘em.

  26. Jon
    May 26, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Good point, NM, and I had noticed that, but it lacked the comic effect of “unexpected…again.”

  27. sam (sam)
    May 26, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I really agree with Tallal’s post from 1:56 pm. If Jon as committed any wrong on this message board (and I don’t think he has), it is being a bit pedantic. But Jim Malec and Jim C have done far worse: they have made totally unnecessary, mean-spirited commentary that also happens to be intellectually dubious and was in no way provoked by the legitimate comments that Jon posted in both threads. What Jim Malec and Jim C have done is far worse than anything Jon has done.

    Whats especially obnoxious is the fact that there are other commenters on these boards who post far more mean spirited and irrelevant attacks at the 9513 writers than Jon ever has. Yet those commenters rarely receive such vituperation from the 9513 staff in return. I can only suspect one reason for the difference: the commenters who just post vitriol are not threatening in any way to Jim Malec’s or Jim C’s professional credibility. But Jon’s posts often point out legitimate flaws in writing or knowledge. Perhaps the Jims feel threatened because Jon is obviously a credible person while some of the other commenters are not. Perhaps the Jims feel threatened because Jon seems more informed and more intelligent than they do. I don’t know what motivates the Jims but I find their behavior ugly.

    I have lost respect for the 9513 over the Jims’ comments. It seems that the 9513 holds songs (and especially lyrics) to high standards. The writers for the 9513 are in no way shy about pointing out perceived flaws in the lyrics of songs. But when someone credible such as Jon dares to suggest a problem with Jim Malec’s or Jim C’s commentary, they sometimes get in a huff. It seems to me that the 9513 holds artists up to high standards but apparently some of its writers find it obnoxious that readers would hold their reviews up to high standards (again, I am not talking about the readers who post pure scorn but those like Jon who post honest and informed criticism).

    Finally, I come to the 9513 because I enjoy insightful commentary and I also enjoy an environment where people respect each other and argue about the intellectual merits of different positions rather than delivering ad hominem insults. But Jim Malec and Jim C have lately been stooping to the ad hominem level. It certainly makes the website less valuable.I consider their comments to be disrespectful toward not only Jon but to also to any attempt to build a virtual-community based on respect toward others. I would not want to be part of a real-life community that tolerates the behavior of Jim Malec and Jim Caligiuri; I certainly think less of an Internet community that tolerates such behavior.

    Its bad enough when commenters throw around irrelevant insults such as “Obamavoter” or whatever. But that I can tolerate. However, when two people who officially write for the website start throwing out irrelevant insults toward specific individuals who come and post on this site (rather than large groups such as “obamavoters”) I am less tolerant.

    I apologize for the rant, but I find the actions of Jim Malec and Jim Caligiuri very unfortunate.

  28. Stormy
    May 26, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    What “legitamate flaw” did Jon point out when complaining that Juli’s review of The Infamous Stringdusters was not long enough for his liking?

  29. sam (sam)
    May 26, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Stormy – I wrote, “Jon’s posts often point out legitimate flaws in writing or knowledge.” I did not evaluate that particular complaint Jon made. My commentary in no way depends on whether that particular post was a good or bad one, et cetera.

    I nowhere said that any commenter always makes legitimate posts or that I find any commenter’s posts to always be right, insightful, et cetera. I am not interested in a discussion over the merits of one particular comment. Rather, what I find so obnoxious about Jim Malec’s behavior is that he would gratuitously attack a commenter who often makes thoughtful and well-informed comments on this page in the way that he did.

    Shifting gears, Even if we assume for argument’s sake that Jon’s comment about length was irrelevant or unimportant , Jim Malec decided to respond – not by saying that the comment was off topic or rude or otherwise inappropriate but by getting into the debate on Jon’s terms. So if the comment was irrevelevant, Malec was participating in the same irrelevance and thus appears hypocritical for later claiming, when Jon got the better of the argument, that Jon posts comments beside the point. Jim was willing to get into a debate about a “beside the point” remark too. And if the comment was relevant, than Jon shouldn’t be excoriated for having made it. Either way, Jim Malec behaved poorly.

    Jim Malec came off as the little kid who says, “hey lets play checkers, I really want to play that game!” but then when he gets totally destroyed by a superior opponent, cries and says, “Checkers is a stupid game anyway.”

  30. Jim Malec
    May 26, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    The 9513’s writers, myself included, are always interested in engaging in respectful debate and discussion. That’s why we have an open comment policy here.

  31. Jim Malec
    May 26, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Jim Malec decided to respond – not by saying that the comment was off topic or rude or otherwise inappropriate but by getting into the debate on Jon’s terms

    Just so everyone knows what we’re talking about, I’m going to re-post the comment that “got [me] into the debate on Jon’s terms:”

    Posted by Jim Malec: This is a 150 word album review… pretty much the standard length for print publications. While our internal target has been 600 words, we’re now allowing shorter reviews of some albums that might not have otherwise received coverage.

    For what it’s worth, I’m still willing to get into a debate about that particular “beside the point” issue–because while I don’t think it’s at all relevant to the topic at hand, I do think the criticism warranted a rebuttal.

    As for my “childish behavior,” hey, call it what you will–there was no ad hominem from my side. I was merely making a factual statement about my valuation of a particular poster’s comments.

  32. Stormy
    May 26, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    SAm: Jim responded by posting the site length criteria, which was exactly on point.

  33. Leeann Ward
    May 26, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Everyone is entitled to his opinion and you even make some valid points, but how far back do you go with exchanges between Jon and other commenters or writers on this site? It seems, from what you’ve said, that you haven’t been reading for as long as he’s been commenting.

  34. Chris N.
    May 26, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Every debate with Jon is on Jon’s terms, which is why it’s so infuriating to debate him.

    More to the point, every conversation with Jon is a debate. He seeks out a weakness, no matter how small, and then hammers away at it incessantly. I’ve never seen him concede a point. He really should be in politics.

  35. t.scott
    May 26, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I’m sorry I read this thread..both Jims,Jon, and anyone defending either group,need to take chill pills.Sleep on it and come back and read how silly you all sound.

    By the way ,you can go ahead and attack me ,I won’t respond.

  36. Lucas
    May 26, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    I say don’t get too excited about internet comments, they’re just that. I want to give everybody a big ol’ hug.

  37. Leeann Ward
    May 26, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    There’s no reason to attack you, T.Scott. I think Sam’s just given many of us an opening to comment on a situation that’s been boiling for a very long time now. Jon is very smart, writes well and I even agree with him a lot, but the way in which he critiques the writers and other commenters is often extremely condescending and, I’ll say it, intimidating…most often due to the reasons that Chris N. has noted.

    Two wrongs certanly don’t make a right, but Jon dishes out the insults as good as the Jims do, though I do think that “idiot” is going too far. Then again, the two wrongs don’t make a right thing again, I’m guessing “Smilin’ Jim” isn’t exactly a compliment either.

  38. sam (sam)
    May 26, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Jim Malec you are right when say “there was no ad hominem from my side.” I was wrong to say that you made an ad hominem attack.

    Jim C however did make what could be construed as an ad hominem attack on Jon when he wrote, “If Jon says something on the internet, why does anyone “pay attention?” That seems to be an attack on the person rather than the argument.

  39. Leeann Ward
    May 26, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    You’re right. I think I need to go make a “peace and Love” playlist.

  40. Jim C
    May 26, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Smilin’ Jim is fine. It’s an old internet nickname that someone gave to me. As far as the rest, I stand by what I said and offer no apologies.

    I wish you all would discuss the music but that seems impossible with someone who is always looking for an argument and will go to any length to find one here.

    Jon doesn’t like me, hasn’t for a long time. The feeling is mutual. How the folks who run this site choose to handle this is up to them. I didn’t start writing here to get into this, but I’m not going to shy away from it either.

    Oh and Hi Nina… I mean NM!

  41. Leeann Ward
    May 26, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Luckily the first comment is mine and it was even on topic.:)

  42. Steve Harvey
    May 26, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    My favorite Laurerdale cd is “Headed For The Hills”
    I’m with you MerleFan. Excellent record, which blends the bluegrass, country and folk elements of Lauderdale’s music together wonderfully.

    I saw the comment count for this review on the main page and thought ‘Wow, how great. This has generated a lot of discussion. Perhaps some people are contrasting Lauderdale’s own lyrical style with Hunters, comparing and contrasting this album with ‘Headed for the Hills’ and the Grateful Dead records.’

    No such luck.

  43. Leeann Ward
    May 26, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    I could never get into the Grateful Dead. Maybe that’s why I’m not loving this album.

  44. Rick
    May 26, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Lets face it, Jon W. really knows how to push some people’s buttons around here…

  45. Leeann Ward
    May 26, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Oh, the irony.:)

  46. Razor X
    May 26, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    As for my “childish behavior,” hey, call it what you will–there was no ad hominem from my side. I was merely making a factual statement about my valuation of a particular poster’s comments.

    I agree. Furthermore, the writers here are well within their rights to respond to hecklers.

  47. Steve Harvey
    May 26, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    I could never get into the Grateful Dead. Maybe that’s why I’m not loving this album.
    Funnily enough, this record reminds me more of The Band than the Dead.

  48. philz
    May 26, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Love the new album. Among other things, I think Hunter’s lyrics are among his best. Great rock n roll story telling. Also really enjoy the soul sounding stuff on this album. The whole album holds together really well.

  49. Steve Harvey
    May 30, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    The soul stuff is a welcome addition to Lauderdale’s repertoire of sounds.

Tagged In This Article

// // //

Current Discussion

  • Paige: Oh damn. :( I never commented here and I haven't been listening to any music at all since Thanksgiving (it …
  • Dave W.: Just read the news here. Will miss E145 very much - love this site. All the best to you Juli …
  • Leeann Ward: Oh, dang! This is real. Farewell to the most generous, informative, quality, intelligent, consistent, ethical country music blog! You …
  • bll: Thanks Juli for all the great articles and information; you'll be missed by me and I suss several others. Best …
  • Both Kinds of Music: I hope people appreciate the irony that one of the best "Americana" albums is titled Metamodern Sounds in COUNTRY Music.
  • Barry Mazor: I would not rule out that possibility..There's a different set of voters involved..
  • Dana M: Does anyone else think that Brandy Clark actually has a good chance of winning since this isn't a country awards …
  • Juli Thanki: UPDATE: Brandy Clark got a Best New Artist nom. BEST AMERICANA ALBUM: Rosanne Cash -- The River & The Thread John Hiatt -- Terms …
  • luckyoldsun: Glenn Campbell is great and I'd love to see him get an award, but the words of that song may …
  • Casey Penn: Juli, it was an honor to write for you here on You're good at what you do, and The …

Recently Reviewed Albums

  • walkerandthetexasdangers3
  • deadmanstown
  • tom t hall storytellers
  • paulthorntooblessed
  • duhksbeyondtheblue
  • kelleymickwee
  • sandrarhodes
  • candi staton