Pokey LaFarge Produces Mixed Bag Of Blues With 'Something In The Water'
It seems sadly fitting to be reviewing this album on the same day that we lose one of the greatest blues legends there ever was. RIP BB King - gone but never forgotten, especially as your style and influence is still so alive in the likes of Pokey Lafarge and many many others. Admittedly I picked this album for not all the right reasons (hands up, the name ‘Pokey’ tickled me a little bit) but one of the more legit reasons was to give my ears a wider range of sounds and not get stuck in an indie rut.
Album opener "Something in the water" I was sad to hear wasn’t a jazzy remix of the Swiss Lips song that I know and love, but it certainly ticked the ‘try to listen to something that’s not indie today’ box. It’s actually impossible to listen to this song and stay sitting still so I’m simultaneously typing, listening and lindy-hopping round the kitchen. Nice beat and quavering vocals – little bit Bombay Bicycle Club style. Second track "Wanna be your man" kicks in and straight away I’m five years old again listening to my mum singing along to "Ain’t nobody here but us chickens" by Louis Jordan (incidentally BB King also did a swinging version of this).
"Underground" gets a little bit Minnie the Moocher (Cab Calloway) on me with some sneaky little loud/soft alternation going on. The fourth track is too sweet and angelic lyrically for my hardened south east London heart but the tune is pretty and it’s one that is comfortingly predictable, I was able to sing along on the first listen. But maybe I’m just a bit clairvoyant like that? Things slow up a little for "Cairo, Illinois" but then we hit the midway point of the album and boom "Acting the fool" gallops up on a banjo/harmonica playing wild horse from Dartmoor, all frisky and uncontrollable. I so want to grab it and rein it in a little but it races off towards the sunset and I’m just chasing its long, swishy tail.
"All night long" then gets me bouncing around again, seriously I double dare you to try to stay motionless for this one. Like a game of reverse musical statues. The next song "Goodbye, Barcelona" just really doesn’t do it for me, all Spanish sounding handclaps and Rioja lyrics. I can kind of see where he was aiming, but the in-between bits sound more smoky Parisian bar scene from the 1920s to me, before spinning round to a pimped up Bavarian bistro.
Delicate little ditty "Far away" is followed up by "The Spark" and it feels like the album is tapering off a little in these last few offerings. Then we get to "Bad Girl". More talk of angels, haloes and wings, hell, even pearly gates and St. Peter. Which is a shame, because again I quite like the relaxed, chilled out tune. By the time the final track "Knocking the dust off the rust" hits, my ears are literally on their knees praying to the indie disco gods to send down a plague of Morrisseys. I give it one last big shebang with all my heart and raise a glass to the late great BBK, before filing under sunny Sunday lazy lounge listening. And sticking Suede on.
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Words by Mary long