Pokey LaFarge: In the Blossom of Their Shade review – all kinds of breezy Americana

For Illinois-born Andrew Heissler, Pokey LaFarge is less a stage name than an identity that allows him access to all manner of historical Americana – the adenoidal country wail of Hank Williams, the swing of 1930s jazz, the shuffle of New Orleans R&B and more – to which he adds wry charm and a retro sartorial style. This ninth outing comes in the wake of 2020’s Rock Bottom Rhapsody, an album that won him high plaudits while documenting a dark night of the soul.

The search for redemption is not entirely absent here, but this is a largely upbeat piece, recorded when the pandemic stalled touring plans. Opener Get It ’Fore It’s Gone catches the frustrations of lockdown in breezy, summertime style, while Mi Ideal and Fine to Me slide easily past in similar cod-Caribbean style, flavoured with pedal steel guitar. Elsewhere, R&B provides the template for Killing Time and Rotterdam, a tribute to the Dutch city mixing surf guitar with R&B handclaps and call-and-response vocals. There are more pensive moods; Long for the Heaven I Seek is mournful country gospel, while Goodnight, Goodbye is one of a trio of forlorn love calls. An entertainingly diverse set.