Album Review: Something in the Water by Pokey LaFarge
Very Good, Based on 6 Critics
PopMatters - 80 Based on rating 8/10
Pokey LaFarge is a force of nature. Not only has he set out to popularise his unique take on the traditional American music he so obviously loves, but he has done it with verve, energy and commitment. This would be commendable even if his music, almost entirely self-written, was any less good than it is, but, notwithstanding his efforts, the music on Something in the Water is that good.
Some artists who evoke the styles of the past seem to have spent every waking moment of their adult lives struggling to sound as if they were born in a different decade. Pokey LaFarge, on the other hand, makes music that suggests he somehow passed through a wrinkle in time from 1929 to 2015, complete with his banjo in hand; LaFarge's music never seems forced, but flows from him naturally with an easy grace, a playful insouciance, and a confidence in his talent that stops well short of arrogance. After jumping to the big leagues with his self-titled 2013 album released by Jack White's Third Man label, LaFarge has ambled back to the independents; Something in the Water is his first album for Rounder, the venerable roots music label, but Something ranks with his best recorded work to date, maintaining the rootsy sway and swagger of his earlier albums but boasting stronger instrumental interplay and an extra dose of pep that makes the finished product especially winning.
Pokey LaFarge created a ripple in the Americana community with his insightful comments in an interview with Rolling Stone. He said: He’s right of course. While one can even cite the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and even the ‘90s in terms of shared pop culture references, it gets a lot harder to do so by the time one gets to the 21st century because of the fragmentation of audiences and styles.
Pokey LaFargeSomething in the Water(Rounder)3. 5 out of 5 stars It might have taken nearly seven years for the perky retro sounds of Pokey LaFarge to hit the mainstream — courtesy of Jack White who released LaFarge’s self-titled album on his Third Man imprint — but that just shows how steadfastly the Midwestern musician held true to his far from trendy approach. Not just an American music revivalist in the form of this generation’s Leon Redbone, LaFarge writes the bulk of his material and plies genres as diverse as country swing, honky-tonk, big band, pre-war blues and on this album’s “Goodbye, Barcelona,” Spanish/gypsy/Klezmer complete with Mexicali brass.
Pokey LaFarge – real name Andrew Heissler – is a St Louis-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist blissfully unaffected by the music of the last 80 years. His fans include Jack White, who produced 2011 EP Chittlin’ Cookin’ Time in Cheatham County and whose Third Man label released LaFarge’s last album. Something in the Water is a riverboat trip through the US midwest, recorded in Chicago and performed by musicians from the region.
Pokey LaFarge Something in the Water (Rounder) Pokey LaFarge is a man out of time. Behind his nasally warble, the songwriter born Andrew Heissler cuts originals with an ear tuned to the first part of the 20th century, a palette of early jazz, Western swing, pre-war blues, and honky-tonk that explodes remarkably authentic and diverse. Making his Rounder debut following a string of self-releases and breakout on Jack White's Third Man Records with an eponymous 2013 LP, the St.