mon 06/12/2021

Album: Pokey LaFarge - In the Blossom of Their Shade | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Pokey LaFarge - In the Blossom of Their Shade

Album: Pokey LaFarge - In the Blossom of Their Shade

Pokey's lockdown escape

Pokey LaFarge - Mr Americana

Oh boy, there’s nothing like slipping on an old pair of jeans and cowboy boots. That’s the comfy feeling you get from the opening notes of Pokey’s new road trip in the company of some great musical ghosts. Hank Williams, Fats Domino, Carl Perkins – perhaps even the whole damn Million Dollar Quartet, with Buddy and the Everlys dropping by. Pokey hugs them all close, with the best of results. A trip through Middle Americana.

LaFarge had just embarked on a tour when Covid hit and he found himself stuck in Austin, Texas. What to do but make music! In the Blossom of Their Shade is Pokey’s lockdown album, but far from being constrained by the pandemic he felt liberated – from “a dark place” somewhat paradoxically. Given “space to reflect” and finding “peace in the stillness”, he was able to “recalibrate”, reflect on what he was doing and why. The creative treadmill, even for artists able to resist corporate pressure, is a killer. Enforced confinement was an escape. God leads the list of credits of “those who made this record possible”.

The lyrics aren’t all that cosy, whether dealing in the personal or the political, but Pokey suggests that if we’re going to hell in a hand cart we might as well enjoy some good music en route. “I’m gonna live life just like a butterfly/ It’s here today then kiss the world goodbye/ Noon is breaking, I’m making my way/ Don’t throw shade on my sunny day” he sings on “Get It ‘Fore It’s Gone”, the reggae-infused opener.  His heart may be breaking on the Tex-Mex inflected “Yo-Yo”, but the mood is up. You half expect Marty Robbins to ride out. “Goodnight, Goodbye (Hope Not Forever)” is a soft-shoe shuffle, the perfect closer complete with delicious passing chords, elegant piano and pedal steel, and ooh-aah vocals as Pokey turns cabaret singer.

In his 15 years as a pro, LaFarge has always ranged widely – country, blues, jazz, ragtime, Western swing, a bit of R&B. “Rotterdam” is a wonderful slice of rockabilly, yet as with everything else he does it never sounds derivative. The retro sound surely represents a yearning for times past, for the song is about wanting to escape the horrors of contemporary America.

Working with a core team of Beau Sample on upright bass, Alex Hall on drums and percussion, Scott Ligon on organ, electric guitar, and Lady Blackbird on harmony vocals, Pokey LaFarge shows that the sha-la-la days aren’t yet over. This keeper of an album invites us on to the dance floor – and this year we don’t have to dance round our handbags.

God leads the list of credits of those who made this record possible

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Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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