In the Blossom of Their Shade
New West Records
A Crazily Infectious and Stirring Collection of Worldly-Wise Earworms
Recorded in East Austin, after trying to start a promotional tour that got wiped out by the pandemic, LaFarge turned disadvantage to advantage, in recording an album laced with (some) sunnier perspectives than his prior release “Rock Bottom Rhapsody” – there’s also a stylistic shift in this release with the record moving a few steps away from the Swing Blues of earlier work towards more international influences.
This is clear from the off, with opener “Get it For It’s Gone” which is laced with a ska/bluebeat groove and is a guaranteed body-moving earworm after half a listen.
This Caribbean/South American flavour is continued with “Mi Ideal” which has a Latin sunny afternoon lightness about it and it’s one you can sing along too, even if you don’t understand the lyrics (I’m speaking from experience here!). “Fine To Me” choogles along in a Creedence Clearwater revival style before “Drink of You” slows things down with its “there’s always something to drink about” refrain and its Sinatra-esque late night/early morning lyricism and theme.
Following this “Rotterdam” explodes into view with a twangy Latin ode to the need to travel and the desire to find peace – somewhere else.
Personally, I can think of better places than the Dutch mega-port as bolt-holes, but Pokey Lafarge does a good job of romanticising a distant location and does a far better job of selling the mysterious charms of the place with a musical and lyrical melting pot of influences better than the Beautiful South did!
“To Love or Be Alone” takes the listener back to South America – fans of Calexico and their recent collaboration with Dean Owens will find joy in this number, which poses the eternal question of whether it’s worth settling for someone – or rejecting. I have to admit, I played air maracas to this – it’s giddily infectious.
It’s waltz time on “Long For the Heaven I Seek” a tale of waiting and longing – it develops into a tentatively hopeful gospel-tinged plea for some form of communion.
It’s then a short leap into the 50’s vocal group feel of “Killing Time” which could have slotted into the soundtrack for John Waters’ “Cry Baby” with no problem at all – “I’m killing time/it ain’t killing me” is a brave declaration of positivity in these times.
“Yo-Yo” takes a Latin rhythm and lyrically explores emotional uncertainty – we’ve all been there – and back. It’s one of the quieter tracks on the album but its “do you want me or not?” line will resonate widely.
“Goodnight Goodbye (Hope not forever)” fittingly closes the ten track offering – “nothing says goodbye like a stiff drink and a tear” and its roughed up 50’s lounge style is gorgeous.
It’s one plucked straight from the Raul Malo velvet smoking jacket and big cigar playbook and it succeeds in dislodging the other 9 earworms that this album’s implanted (without the aid of a 5G tinfoil hat chip) into your brain. Without a shadow of a doubt, this crazily infectious and stirring collection of world-wise earworms is already my favourite Pokey Lafarge album and one which could easily seem him cross-over to bigger and bigger audiences.