Jimmy LaFave

Cimarron Manifesto – 2007 (Red House)

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

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CDs by Jimmy LaFave

Call it the Last Will and Testament of Jimmy LaFave. Being of sound mind, Mr. LaFave leaves the following: the obligatory tip of the hat to Dylan ("Not Dark Yet"), the call of the outstretched road song ("Car Outside") and the Woody Guthrie-styled pulse check on lost America ("This Land"). And what would we expect from this devoted disciple of the red dirt sound - disco?

For the most part, it works nicely. LaFave's unusual voice skips the midtones, with a wispy high register working alongside a guttural rasp at the bottom. This tangent blends terrifically with the steel-guitar blues towards the end of the disc. If Joe South's "Walk a Mile In My Shoes" doesn't have you reaching for the repeat button, you must be in traction.

LaFave's "problem" is he's such a master at both picking and interpreting the covers that the relative simplicity of his own compositions stands out. He clearly favors straight-ahead lyrics and arrangements - this may be why he hasn't caught more fans into his net. For his next record, LaFave may want to take on more poetic wordplay and experiment with extra daring production. That would really do Dylan justice. But if this were his final effort, it's a fine packed suitcase for any traveler down the open road.