Album Reviews

Pokey LaFarge

Something In The Water

Artist:     Pokey LaFarge

Album:     Something In The Water

Label:     Rounder

Release Date:     04/07/2015

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In a world that seems to be moving forward at breakneck speed, Pokey LaFarge is perfectly content to slow things down, winking while he ambles along. His new album, Something In The Water, is a rollicking, cheeky trip into some mythic ‘good old days’ long gone yet fondly remembered.
Rust-belt nostalgia often comes hand in hand with equally retro politics, a thought that raced into my mind as I gazed at the young woman on the album’s cover: underwear and high heel clad, serving up fried chicken to a glum looking Pokey. But I was swayed to forgive him when the first notes played, and out came LaFarge’s earnest, nasal croon that sounds far out of its time. His ruminations on love, heartbreak and women (the good, the bad, and the ugly) all fit within the context of his kitschy, Midwestern aura.
For his latest album, LaFarge proves himself to be a dynamic bandleader as well as a performer, and he carries his group through a range of styles each as charismatic and evocative as the next. They reel from barn-stomping bluegrass inflected country (“Knocking The Dust Off The Rustbelt Tonight”), to the folksy keening of songs such as “Far Away,” to the exotic carnivalesque lure of “Goodbye, Barcelona.” But with muted horns and a wind section, the heart of the album, where he and his musicians really swing, is ragtime jazz.
Though the album feels raw and perhaps underproduced at times, those same qualities lend to a sound that is so raucous and lively, you may forget it isn’t live. When I reached the end, the abrupt silence shocked me, and I waited a beat, half expecting to hear Pokey lean into the mic, “alright folks, the night’s still young, I suppose we could play a few more.”
-Emily Gawlak

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