Pokey Lafarge – Rock Bottom Rhapsody: Album Review

Pokey LaFarge returns with his new album, Rock Bottom Rhapsody; a personal story of getting to the bottom of the glass and beyond.

Release Date: 10th April 2020

Label: New West Records

Formats: CD / LP / Digital

A brief charming classical rhapsody opens Pokey LaFarge’s latest album setting a calm mood before he lets fly with End of my Rope, which shuttles along in his more familiar Americana style. This lively and danceable tune, is catchy and instantly likeable before a more bluesy honky tonk piano leads into Fuck Me Up.

Fuck Me Up was apparently written prior to LaFarge reaching a watershed time in his life which seemed to turn out for the worse. He penned this song of self destruction and he readily admits, I wrote this record before the fall from grace, and then it was recorded after the fall from grace. So you see how that could be kind of odd! What I was searching for was peace and humility in the aftermath of carnage, of things I had wrecked, and — seemingly at the time — completely destroyed. I was just trying to survive.

After this destructive message the album swings along to Bluebird; a song inspired by LaFarge’s drinking and dancing till the early hours and represents some of the demons that took over him. If your feet don’t tap along you ain’t normal and lack soul on this ode to a lady following a romantic encounter!

A short reprise carries the album along before Lucky Sometimes, where another romance is recollected in this lounge style tune in which you can picture him propped up against a piano, whisky in hand, cigarette drooping from his fingers recalling his luck in finding an amorous partner and celebrating that “even bums get lucky sometimes.”

The musical pace is lifted on Carry On although the mood isn’t. In this 50’s style rock’n’roll ballad Pokey ponders gloomily about his fate.

Pokey LaFarge’s music is heavily steeped in St Louis and the mud flats of Mississippi; jazzy and twanging guitar and shuffling drums abound on the following tracks, although recovery is on the cards on Just The Same the drop is apparent with Storm A Comin and Ain’t Comin’ Home.

In the final song, Lost In The Crown, LaFarge bemoans his anonymity in the city before the final nail in the coffin as he hits rock bottom with the last reprise of Rock Bottom Finale.

The man singing these songs isn’t exactly the same man that wrote them. This album is about the story of who I used to be.

Pokey LaFarge on Rock Bottom Rhapsody

I hope his personal revival continues, Pokey LaFarge’s music is highly entertaining, sometimes foot tappingly good; sometimes melancholy. One constant is that the music is always high quality.

Rock Bottom Rhapsody was recorded at Reliable Recorders in Chicago  features guitarist Joel Paterson, keyboardist Scott Ligon, upright/electric bassist Jimmy Sutton, and drummer Alex Hall. 

Pokey LaFarge also found time to appear in the forthcoming Netflix film The Devil All The Time and is due to appear in London on 21st April 2021, which sadly appears to be his only UK booking. 

Pokey LaFarge: Official Website / Twitter / Facebook

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