Jim Lauderdale is the very picture of a restless creative: In the past 25 years, he has released 26 albums ranging in style from modern and traditional country to pop, rock, folk, and bluegrass, often mashing and distilling it all into something that can only really be called Americana, Lauderdale style. I’m a Song joins The Other Sessions (2001) and Country Super Hits Vol. 1 (2006) as one of the prolific singer-songwriter’s richest new millennium offerings for down-the-middle traditional country fans. The first half of this twenty-song collection, in itself, would make a great Bakersfield country album: jaunty album openers “Let’s Have a Good Thing Together” and “Past It,” stone-country ballads “You’ve Got a Way All Yours” and Bobby Bare co-write “The Feeling’s Hanging On,” and those sweet Lee Ann Womack harmonies on “Doin’ Time in Bakersfield” and “A Day With No Tomorrow.” But to stop there would deprive listeners of some bona fide gems in the more experimental second half, including Gary Allan and John Oates co-writes, a Patty Loveless guest spot, the oddly uplifting epic “The Day the Devil Changed,” and an updated Lauderdale recording of “The King of Broken Hearts.” It’s striking to look back and notice that, for all the distinct vision and personality each track carries, a full half of them don’t even touch three minutes. Only three pass the 3:30 mark. All leave large impressions relative to their modest run times. Chalk that up to Lauderdale’s knack for precise turns of phrase and indelible, hooky melodies, and to the razor-sharp work of a (Lauderdale-produced) studio band that includes James Burton, Al Perkins, Kenny Vaughn, Dennis Crouch, Chad Cromwell, Russ Paul, and John Jarvis. Seems when you know exactly what you want to do and how to do it, you don’t need to spend a lot of time dawdling around. Jim Lauderdale might have two or three more albums out by the time you read this.