Tracks like “Wanna Be Your Man” sound like they were recorded 75 years ago with lyrics to match but believe it or not, most of the tunes here on “Something in the Water” were penned by LaFarge last year. On the cover, this 32 yr old St. Louis singer -songwriter is a dead ringer for the Clash’s Mick Jones circa ’77, but inside, the music is a total throwback to the early jazz, ragtime and country blues of the 20’s and 30’s. Not that we haven’t heard any of this musical nostalgia before re-imagined by a host of other performers. LaFarge is a bit different because, he writes his own slightly humorous lyrics and sets them to the familiar tones and melodies made popular by Mid-West bands, pre WWII. He’s clearly influenced by the likes of Milton Brown and his Brownies, The Mississippi Shieks , the original Skillet Lickers and Bob Wills.
He’s not Normal
32 yr old Pokey LaFarge – Andrew Heissler is his real name- grew up Normal, Illinois – yes that town does exist – but this guy’s far from it! Thanks to Jack White who produced the singer’s early records on his Third Man label, LaFarge has garnered considerable hipster buzz in the last couple of years. His music has been featured on “Boardwalk Empire”. The question is whether LaFarge is the real deal or just another tiresome retro poser born under a pile of Leon Redbone albums?
First class musicianship
To be sure the arrangements and the caliber of the musicianship sound spot on authentic and first class thanks to Chicago producer Jimmy Sutton, a sidekick of JD McPherson. The bottom line is, Pokey LaFarge’s “Something in The Water”, teeters dangerously close at times to sounding… dare I say it… hokey. – Eric Berg
Where: Pokey LaFarge and band plays Don Quixote’s in Felton, on Thursday, July 23, 2015.
Video: This is the album’s goofy title track – “Something in the Water”.