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Jim Lauderdale/Donna the Buffalo 

Wait 'Til Spring (Dualtone)

If you've listened to anything remotely resembling country music in the past 10 years, chances are you've heard Jim Lauderdale. The Nashville singer-songwriter has written with Harlan Howard, Kim Richey, and Robert Hunter, and had his songs recorded by Buddy Miller, Kelly Willis, Vince Gill, the Dixie Chicks, and George Strait.

If his own eight solo albums haven't been distinctive enough to build a commercial following, Lauderdale seems to have recently found his own performing niche. After two collaborations with the legendary Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, he has partnered with East Coast festival veterans Donna the Buffalo for his 11th album, Wait 'Til Spring.

Lauderdale's chameleon-like adaptability is both a gift and affliction, and the Buffalo's starry-eyed celebration of all things Americana is often not limiting enough. Wait 'Til Spring, with sideswipes at blues, soul, Cajun, and zydeco, seems to bend over backwards in an effort to cover every inch of the Buffalo's roots/jam range. Songs with a suspicion of country provide the best stage, not only for Lauderdale's pen and voice, but for Donna the Buffalo's atmospheric harmonies. At its peak, Wait 'Til Spring is worth keeping around through the summer.

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