Jim Lauderdale Credit: Scott Simontacchi

Elements of vintage soul have long been part of Nashville veteran Jim Lauderdale’s portfolio, dating back to his stunning 1994 album Pretty Close to the Truth (Atlantic)—a knockout hybrid of American music that’s also distinguished by the melodic sensibility that’s made him one of the most successful songwriters in modern country history. They appear once again on his latest record, London Southern (Sky Crunch), which was cut four years ago while Lauderdale was on a UK tour backed by the like-minded working band of roots maverick Nick Lowe. The songs were composed by Lauderdale on his own or with stalwarts like Odie Blackmon, John Oates (whose cowriting on “Different Kind of Groove Some Time” harks back to the earliest, soul-drenched days of his little duo with Daryl Hall), and country-soul master Dan Penn. Regardless of who he partners with (if anyone), bits of soul shine through, like the Memphis flavors that seep through “We’ve Only Got So Much Time,” with some stabbing guitar leads a la Steve Cropper from Steve Donnelly. Lauderdale combines his American influences with a salute to the pop sounds of Great Britain, summoning a Beatlesque flair on “No Right Way to Be Wrong” while evoking both Buck Owens and Ray Charles. Elsewhere, he delves into suave supper-club crooning, such as on the string-laden ballad “I Love You More,” but through it all the catchiness of the performances makes the genre stroll feel irrelevant.   v

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