Music Review: Pokey LaFarge, Pokey LaFarge

Published on June 4th, 2013 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, New Music Tuesday, Reviews |

By Melissa Bratcher

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Pokey LaFarge is a great addition to Jack White’s Third Man Records roster. His debut album for the label, Pokey LaFarge, is a rootsy, charming collection of tidy songs (only one is over four minutes long) that is terrifically listenable.

His voice is fluid, going from a bluesy shout to falsetto on the standup bass driven “Central Time.” That voice is so singular, especially on “One Town At A Time.” I couldn’t imagine him doing any other sort of music.

The musicianship, too, is outstanding. He’s surrounded himself with other adroit players, like Ryan Koenig, whose harmonica playing propels “Wontcha Please Don’t Do It” and the evocative “The Devil Ain’t Lazy.” The latter is like music from a Fleischer cartoon, a call and response that builds tension throughout. It’s great.

While there are stompers, Pokey LaFarge also brings the romance. “Let’s Get Lost” is dear, and features the lines “I’d like to circle round the whole world twice/just gettin’ lost with you by my side.” If that’s not romantic, I don’t know what is. “Kentucky Mae” is pretty, with strings and horns, everything complementing each other graciously. “What The Rain Will Bring” has a muted cornet interplaying with a clarinet, and tight, gorgeous harmonies. It’s a wistful smile of a song. Pokey LaFarge’s harmonies with Caitlin Rose on “City Summer Blues” are delightful. It’s a cinematic portrait of a city in the summer and the longing to get away. Every song on the album is like a short film, illustrative of a moment in time.

I loved “Close The Door” with its urgent, descending guitar hook and wailing clarinet. The album wraps with “Home Away From Home,” a jazzy, warm love song to Louisville. It’s an excellent close to an excruciatingly fine record.

While Pokey LaFarge is a relatively short record, 12 songs, most around three minutes long, it never feels slight. It’s a fully realized, sweetly retro, but never twee or winking, pure pleasure. This album made me smile so hard.

Pokey LaFarge is out today from Third Man Records and is available to purchase from the label’s website.

Tour Dates:
6/4/13: New York, NY. Bowery Ballroom
6/5/13: Alexandria, VA. Birchmere
6/7/13: Cincinnati, OH. Taft Theatre
6/8/13: Bloomington, IL. Downtown Bloomington
6/12/13: Davenport, IA. Redstone Room @ River Music
6/13:/13: Omaha, NE. The Waiting Room Lounge
6/14/13: Lyons, CO. Oskar Blues Grill & Brews
6/15/13: Denver, CO. Daniels Hall @ Swallow Hill Music
6/16/13: Palisade, CO. Palisade Bluegrass Festival
6/22/13: Fayetteville, AR. George’s Majestic Lounge
6/28/13: Paducah, KY. Maiden Alley Cinema
7/9/13: Decatur, GA. Eddie’s Attic
7/10/13: Knoxville, TN. WDVX Blue Plate Special
7/11/13: Abingdon, VA. Farmer’s Market Pavilion
7/12/13: Asheville, NC. The Grey Eagle
7/14/13: Mount Solon, VA. Natural Chimneys Park
7/15/13: Glenville, PA. Snail Pie Lounge
7/16/13: Harrisburg, PA. The Abbey Bar @ Appalachian Brewing Co.
7/17/13: Philadelphia, PA. World Café Live
7/19/13: Northampton, MA. Iron Horse Music Hall
7/20/13: Boston, MA. Great Scott
7/23/13: Burlington, VT. Signal Kitchen
7/24/13: Montreal, QC. Petit Campus
7/25/13: Ottawa, ON. Elmdale Oyster House & Tavern
7/26/13: Toronto, ON. Horseshoe Tavern
7/27-28/13: Guelph, ON. Hillside Music Festival
7/30/13: Ann Arbor, MI. The Ark
8/3/13: Madison, WI. Memorial Union Terrace
8/9/13: Henderson, KY. Audubon Mill Park
8/10/13: Louisville, KY. Headliners Music Hall
8/16/13: Biddinghuize, Netherlands. Lowlands
8/17/13: Kiewit, Belgium. Pukkelpop
8/19/13: Winterthur, Zurich, Switzerland. Musikfestwochen
8/21/13: Gronigen, Netherlands. Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival
8/22/13: Tonder, Denmark. Tonder Festival
8/23/13: Tonder, Denmark. Tonder Festival
8/24/13: Tonder, Denmark. Tonder Festival
8/25/13: Tonder, Denmark. Tonder Festival
8/31/13: Dorset, UK. End Of The Road Festival
9/12/13: Charleston, IL. Dvorak Concert Hall @ Doudna Fine Arts Festival
9/21-22/13: Bristol, VA. Bristol Rhythm & Roots

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