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This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 3/01
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Mix a shot of Norman Vincent Peale with a generous splash of Jimmy Swaggert. Shake, then pour. Sip or swallow, you've got a Jimmy LaFave, equal parts reverent and raucous. LaFave's latest release continues his usual amalgamation of acoustic introspection and rocking good times, optimistic faith swimming with tales of elusive women and maybe a drop or two of whisky.
On "This Glorious Day," he's Peale to the hilt:
"Take the weight of the worldHe continues his optimism with the happiness-regardless-of-one's-wealth offering, "Poor Man's Dream":
Off your shoulders
And throw it away
Because miracles are happening
Every dream or treasure
That you're hoping to find
Is out there waiting for you
It's just a matter of time..."
"...Find peace and harmony"Red Dirt Songs" is in the same vein. LaFave, with a sly Dylan reference, opens with:
With the lay of the land
Stand beneath the big sky
And count all the stars
That you can
Take off your clothes
Jump in a clear running stream
Soon you'll be living
The poor man's dream"
"Persimmon wine, tupelo honeyHe also includes tributes to Woody Guthrie with a tune of the same name and to Elvis, with "Elvis Loved His Mama." The latter is played like a Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry collaboration.
I feel fine, don't need money
Sip a little wine, taste my honey
Bobby says you gotta serve somebody..."
"On The Road" is a rocker with a count-the-references appeal:
...Rolling ForkThe best song is the piano-backed "On a Bus to St. Cloud." Blanketed with regret, LaFave sings:
You're on the road
To rock and roll...
And you drive and drive
Across the great divide
On the road
To rock and roll
Running on empty
The road and the sky
Take it easy
As the miles fly by
You're on the road
To rock and roll"
"On a bus to St. Cloud, MinnesotaComposing over half the cuts here, he also adeptly takes songs written by others and stamps his ownership on them with his weathered, emotion-laden voice. His willingness to tackle "San Francisco" is a prime example. Written by the late John Phillips, this tune could easily slip into an overdose of schmaltz. Not with LaFave. Using a faster than usual rhythm, his vocals charm the listener.
I thought I saw you standing there
Snow falling all around you
Like a silent prayer...
...In a church in downtown New Orleans
I got down on my knees and prayed
I wept in the arms of Jesus
For the choice you made
We were just getting to the good part baby
Sliding past the mystery..."
So, now you have the answer the next time you're asked 'what's a Jimmy LaFave?'.
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