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“He’s my favorite part of Americana music” – Ketch Secor, Old Crow Medicine Show “He’s a man of great style, an exceptional songwriter and tremendous singer” – Elvis Costello “Jim Lauderdale is a consummate entertainer, a sharp dressed man as well, a terrific songwriter and a great singer." – George Strait “Jim Lauderdale could easily be called a renaissance man. He’s a great singer, great guitar player and there’s no way you could miss his work as a songwriter.” – Ricky Skaggs Jim Lauderdale is a 2-time Grammy winning Americana icon, a singer-songwriter whose unmistakable rhinestone-incrusted silhouette has been a symbol for creative integrity and prolificacy for thirty-one albums over decades of recording. He’s an A-list Nashville songwriter whose songs have ruled the country charts while recording an eclectic catalogue of albums that run the gamut of American roots styles. His prolific streak of releases continues in 2019 with his new album ‘From Another World’. The ten songs contained within, all written or co-written by Jim, are his antidote to the anger, divisiveness of today’s world, a world full of bad news and folks yelling at each other on CNN. This is music from another world, a world of empathy, love, forgiveness and humility. Where people find freedom through togetherness, where they struggle to change for the better, where country music still cries with the sound of pedal steel guitar and psychedelic-tinged lyrics flow through aching indelible melodies. From the start of his career, Jim Lauderdale has been creating his own musical world. Too expansive, eclectic and creatively curious to fit into any prescribed genre boxes, he innovated what is now called Americana music, long before there was a term for it. Everything about the man and his music is classic and timeless, but he’s a total original. The McCartney-esque melodies sung in his aching high lonesome tenor, the fiercely authentic bluegrass songs with mind-expanding psychedelic lyrics… nothing about Jim’s music can be reduced to a single influence, and no other songwriter would fuse these classic strains of tune-craft into such unexpected but immediately satisfying combinations. “A long time ago, I decided that with each record, I would ignore the categories people tried to put me into and just make the music that was in my heart,” Lauderdale explains. “This album is about the search for connection, love and understanding between people, about finding empathy in a world where it feels like folks are more and more at loggerheads. When the world outside your window feels too tough to bear, I hope you’ll step into the world we’ve created here.” The scion of a preacher dad and music teacher mom in rural North Carolina, Jim’s world was turned upside as a kid when he saw the Beatles explosive debut on Ed Sullivan, rewiring his creative mind. Teaching himself a variety of instruments, Jim explored songwriting as a teenager, fueled by a musical diet that ran the gamut from George Jones to the Grateful Dead, Al Green to the Stanley Brothers. A visit to Nashville opened Jim’s eyes to how hard he would need to work to realise his dreams of emulating his troubadour heroes – recording a bluegrass album with legendary mandolin player Roland White, but unable to find a record deal (the album was finally released last year). In 1980, Jim headed to New York City to cut his teeth in the country clubs, making fast friends with fellow musical iconoclasts like Buddy Miller and Shawn Colvin. Jim honed his live chops and graduated to Los Angeles, where he spent the late 80s at the center of the fiery alt-country scene alongside Lucinda Williams and Dwight Yoakam, packing out the Palomino Club and catching the eyes of the local crowds and industry alike, leading to his first record deal. While his classic 90s albums like ‘Planet of Love’ and ‘Pretty Close to the Truth’ drew him rave reviews, Lauderdale’s musical style was too eclectic to fit easily into the major label country box. There was no genre label for a left-of-center blend of country, blues, rock, soul, folk and bluegrass, so Jim had to pioneer one. These days, the identity of Americana music and Jim Lauderdale are one and the same. The first ever winner of the Americana Music Association’s Song and Artist of the Year trophies and the honorary Wagonmaster award, Jim also served as host of the awards for many years. While some people struggle to define what Americana music is, others just point to Jim’s eclectic but totally cohesive catalogue as the defining example. Although he never got to work with his idol Gram Parsons, who Jim immortalized in his classic signature song ‘The King of Broken Hearts’ (also the title of a feature documentary on Jim), Lauderdale has realized that great dream of any musician – to stand shoulder to shoulder making music with his biggest inspirations. His duet albums with bluegrass icon Dr Ralph Stanley earned Jim his first Grammy award, he’s penned albums worth of bluegrass gems with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and he’s on a short list that includes Paul McCartney and Allen Toussaint as a writing partner of Elvis Costello. It’s no wonder that artists from Willie Nelson to John Oates line up to collaborate with Jim, hoping to snare some of that Lauderdale magic. After all, his songs have helped sell millions of albums for artists like George Strait, the Dixie Chicks, Patty Loveless, Lee Ann Womack, Blake Shelton, Solomon Burke, Gary Allan and Vince Gill. Classic songs like ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’, ‘You Don’t Seem to Miss Me’, ‘Hole in My Head’, ‘Halfway Down’, ‘We Really Shouldn’t Be Doing This’ and many more have come from his pen. With his new album ‘From Another World’, Jim has once again opened his heart wide and delivered a record of original songs that plays like a greatest hits set. From the opening one-two punch of hard-charging Dylanesque ‘Some Horses Run Free’ and desperation-led waltz ‘When You Can’t Have What Your Heart Wants’, it’s obvious Lauderdale is firing on all cylanders. ‘The Secrets of the Pyramids’ evokes the twangy psychedelia of the Byrds at their best, rich in harmonies from Third Man Records star Lillie Mae and her brother Frank Rische. The video is a tounge-in-cheek homage to the clip for Toto’s ‘Africa’ and features Jim and acclaimed singer-songwriter Elizabeth Cook in starring roles. Nothing evokes the ghosts of George Jones like instantly classic country love songs ‘For Keeps’ (released this year on Valentine’s Day), ‘Like People From Another World’ and ‘I’ll Forgive You If You Don’t’. The expansive, questioning ‘One Away’ leads into the empathetic finger-picked ‘Listen’. ‘Slow Turn In The Road’ is a bluesy chug lead by stinging guitars and a deeply soulful lead vocal, ‘Ever Living Loving Day’ is the kind of clever-but-playful lyric Jim can write like no other and the album culminates in the wild rave-up ‘Are You Trying To Make A Song out of Us?’. “When I write or play or get into the studio, it feels like it’s all coming together for me - that this is what I’m here to do. No matter what is going on in the rest of my life, how hard things sometimes get, I can leave behind this three and a half minute song and that makes it all worthwhile.”
When an artist first emerges at a young age, they often have a limited well of knowledge and experience to draw from, yet on her debut Love & Lovely Lies, Imogen Clark captured, with great clarity, that sense of blossoming creativity and wide-eyed innocence as it segued into the joy and pain of negotiating young adulthood. Fast forward two years and Imogen is taking another creative leap forward with the release of her second album Collide.
With two years of touring, collaborating and living behind her, she’s been able to take the themes of her debut and delve deeper into their meanings and repercussions, embracing and exploring both the dark and light sides of the human condition.
“What I really wanted for this record was for it to be a crossover record. I’m influenced by so many genres of music and while I’ve mostly worked in the alt-country/Americana world up until now, I was also raised on rock and folk music. I wanted there to be elements of all those genres on the record and I’m really glad we achieved that.”
At the age of 24, Imogen has already realised a wealth of personal goals. From strong showings in national and international songwriting competitions to performing at the iconic Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, signing with Lost Highway Records Australia (Shane Nicholson, Ruby Boots, Adam Eckersley Band, Catherine Britt), receiving multiple CMC Music Award and Golden Guitar Award nominations, and having her last five singles reach #1 on the CMC Top 50 chart. That industry acknowledgement and respect from her peers has led to high profile shows with artists such as Shania Twain, Clare Bowen, Diesel, Ian Moss, Daryl Braithwaite, Willie Watson and Shane Nicholson. She has also earned an abundance of songwriting and studio work credits, having co-written two songs on Kasey Chambers’ ARIA Award and Golden Guitar winning #1 album Dragonfly, and recorded backing vocals on Shane Nicholson’s award winning Love & Blood record.
Imogen’s musical journey began when she picked up her Dad’s old Maton acoustic guitar as an eight-year-old and took her first tentative steps toward a fascination with the instrument and the possibility of writing her own songs. Inspiration also came in the form of her father’s own original songs, adding further fuel to that songwriting and performing desire.
“When I started writing songs, it was because I had grown up listening to Dad’s original music and aspired to tell stories like he did.”
On Collide, Imogen continues to draw inspiration from artists she grew up listening to as well as the constant discovery of new music. “The more my influences grow and the more music I listen to; that makes all the difference to me. I’ll always have the same core influences like Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen and Sheryl Crow who mean a lot to me but as I discover more records and delve deeper into their catalogues, they really inform me creatively”. A shared love of those and other artists with producer/musician Mark Lizotte (Diesel) made him an ideal choice to realise Imogen’s new songs in the studio. “I felt it would be the perfect opportunity for me to work with someone who understands Americana music but also loves a lot of other genres and gets rock and folk and has his own varied influences. I jumped at the opportunity and he just understood what I wanted. I was really happy with what Mark did with the album,” Imogen enthuses.
Take a glance at the album artwork for Collide and it’s immediately clear that the music within is of a darker and more mature nature. The image is of a more self-assured and worldly-wise Imogen Clark and she reinforces that impression right from the outset with the deep and soulful title track, built on both a propulsive shuffle and a brooding rock mood. “That song is about feeling like you’re going down a troublesome path, that you’ve gone past the point of no return and just embracing it – the difficulties and challenges of life.”
‘Late Night Girl’ hits a big chorus of melancholic longing, finely balanced between pop of both the folk and indie kind. It showcases the diversity of Imogen’s songwriting, highlighted even further by ‘Too Late’, a devastating and heartbreaking ballad with slow-burning atmospherics which Imogen rates as one of her favourites. “I was really proud of those lyrics and the production was perfectly suited to the song”.
“From the outside looking in, it seems that everything is inside out” sings Imogen on ‘You Got The World Fooled’, a song, as she explains, that takes a poetic approach to the universal theme of clarity through experience. “As you get older you see things for what they are and things lose their sheen a little.” Lines such as “A major chord in the minor blues” on ‘Strike a Pose’ exemplify the songwriter’s dissection of the yin and yang, the heaven and hell, that duality of emotion that runs through so many life experiences.
‘High Tide’ explores similar themes and was one of Imogen’s first forays into stream of consciousness songwriting. “My mum wrote a poem about how people with different levels of sensitivity experience life differently. She used this analogy that some people are wading in the shallow end and some are drowning in the deep end but it’s all the same ocean. I really loved that idea. The song is written around that concept. That’s my proudest moment on the album, lyrically.”
For all the serious emotionality, Imogen and Mark Lizotte have produced an album that bristles with musical energy as much as it deals in introspection. ‘Your Anything At All’ skips along with a dancing folk fiddle. She embraces a strong rock sound on ‘Left Behind’, complete with four-to-the-floor drums and a searing guitar solo. Most impressively, her voice adapts and possesses a range of emotion and intensity to all the different styles she lends her songwriting to.
The range and conviction throughout her debut album and live performances is what has already drawn many to Imogen’s songwriting and will continue to capture the hearts and minds of new fans as thebruised, honest and ultimately optimistic songs of Collide make their way into the world. As she sings on the album closer ‘Oblivion’ – “I’ll rise up fighting, fit to claim my crown.”
“My ultimate goal has always remained the same. I want my music to reach as many people as possible and for them to be touched by it in the same way I feel touched by the music I adore. Whether that’s 50-100 people in a room or larger venues, it doesn’t matter as long as my music is having the same effect on people that my favourite music has had on me.”
“Imogen is a songwriter well beyond her years with a flawless voice that is mesmerising. At just 24, she is already an old soul” – Kasey Chambers.
“There is plenty of fairy dust currently surrounding Imogen Clark… [Collide] is an album of its time, reflecting life as a twenty-something woman in a challenging world… Produced by Mark Lizotte, this album oozes class, sensitivity and style, and marks Imogen as a talented and distinctive performer with a unique way of seeing and conveying the subtleties of life.” – Capital News.
“[Collide is] an album of brilliant polish and expansive genre crossover, drawing on alt. country influences and alt. rock royalty the Cranberries alike… Ratcheting up both songwriting stakes and sonic intensity, Clark touches eloquently on the profound uncertainties that mark us all” – Country Update.
“Imogen Clark shines as a world class talent” – Renowned For Sound (4.5 stars).
“…A great talent” – Richard Wilkins, Channel 9.
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