Patchwork River

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As his faithful followers are well aware, Jim Lauderdale is a wild card in the country music deck who can stretch his native North Carolina twang around classic Memphis soul, bluegrass, rootsy country-rock and songs too crossbred to categorize. He artfully stitches it all together on Patchwork River, the singer/songwriter’s second full-length collaboration with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Not many Nashville-based artists could—or would dare—move from whacked-out humor (“Jawbone”) to thoughtful philosophizing (“Up My Sleeve”) to aching heartbreak (“Far in the Far Away”) in the space of an album, and accordingly, this collection is geared for those whose ears are as restless as Lauderdale’s creative instincts. Low-key and left-field pleasures await those who opt in for the creative whitewater-rapids ride offered by Patchwork River, which again proves that when it comes to sheer imagination and soul, Jim Lauderdale isn’t likely to ever find himself up the creek and paddleless.

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