Picks and Pans Review: Persimmons
One of the top songwriters in Nashville, Lauderdale is an amazingly prolific tunesmith whose songs have been recorded by Patty Loveless, George Strait and Vince Gill, among others. He is also a quietly charismatic performer and a distinctive vocalist with a plaintive, instantly recognizable drawl. Leaving Atlantic Records after two lovely, but puny-selling, discs (the first, 1994's Pretty Close to the Truth, is among the decade's best country-rock albums), he cut Persimmons for the little Upstart label just before getting recalled to the majors by RCA.
Lauderdale's greatest virtue has also been his curse—he's too restlessly creative for mass marketing. On Persimmons he gives us his most relaxed, rawest-sounding album yet. Stylistically, Persimmons is all over the place, from straight country ("Some Things Are Too Good to Last," sung with Emmylou Harris) to mid-'60s garage-band rock ("Tears So Strong"), to blues ("Optimistic Messenger") to near-metal ("Jupiter's Rising"). There are two out-and-out classics: the pun-gently soulful "Don't Leave Your Light Low" and "Do You Like It," a lament masquerading as a good-time shuffle. Persimmons is as unvarnished an album as Lauderdale is likely to make. I'm betting his next release, for RCA, will be his most commercial yet. Here's to his prospective success, with hopes the price doesn't come too high. (Upstart)
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