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Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three

Riverboat Soul – 2010 (Trade Root Music/Free Dirt)

Reviewed by Greg Yost

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CDs by Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three

Pokey LaFarge is a voice from America's past. The young singer/songwriter from St. Louis offers a modern take on traditional string band music that is rooted in the muddy banks of the Mississippi River on his new album. It's nearly impossible to accurately describe or classify LaFarge's music, so just imagine throwing acoustic blues, ragtime, old time string band, folk, swing and traditional New Orleans Jazz into one big blender and hitting the mix button. This might give you some faint idea of what LaFarge is all about.

Prior to "Riverboat Soul," LaFarge functioned primarily as a solo artist. But for his third album, he recruited Joey Glynn, Ryan "Church Mouse" Koenig and Adam Hoskins to back him and dubbed the trio the South City Three.

LaFarge and company kick off the 12-song set with a wallop courtesy of his La La Blues, a snappy harmonica-driven tune, thus generating the musical momentum that carries the album throughout. Another LaFarge original, Two-Faced Tom, with its swiftly moving call and response chorus and its nicely placed kazoo solo, is a real standout.

The only slow moments on the album are LaFarge's tender ballad Bag of Bones and the mellow and smoldering Daffodil Blues.

The chorus to La La Blues, features the refrain, "I'm so happy you got me singing la la la." LaFarge's unique and diverse sound might just be infectious enough to cause listeners to have that very reaction.