Pokey LaFarge: Something in the Water review – charming retro country blues


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. It’s a spirited attempt to keep American roots music – country blues, early jazz, ragtime and western swing – alive. True, there’s nothing stopping you listening to LaFarge’s source material of Sleepy John Estes, Jimmie Rodgers or Bill Monroe instead. But it’s hard not to be charmed by a song called Knockin’ the Dust Off the Rust Belt Tonight, particularly rendered in LaFarge’s rakish vibrato, accompanied by Jordinaires-style backing vocalists, and without the crackles and pops of ancient 78s.


Jon Dennis

The GuardianTramp

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