Jimmy LaFave

Blue Nightfall

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On his seventh offering, and his first since 2001's Texoma, Okie beatnik cum Austin songwriter Jimmy LaFave listens deeply to the tender whispers of his Muse and lets flow with his most personal offering to date. LaFave has always given us song pictures of an America that has either disappeared or is on the verge; he has celebrated its highways, its people, and its heart. He has also given us some choice love songs. But on Blue Nightfall he has gone deep into the latter theme and has come up with a beauty. It's not that he's ignored his other concerns; there are road songs and topical tunes as well. But it's in LaFave's love songs that listeners get to hear a depth and vastness that feel new. LaFave's voice is his greatest asset and he uses it to great effect here, and his production is spot-on throughout. The title track, "Revival," "Sweet Sweet Love," "When You Were Mine," and "Rain Falling Down" are all broken-hearted ballads, colored in woven and textured acoustic and electric guitars accented by Radoslav Lorkovik's accordions, pianos, and organs, and supported by a taut yet subtle rhythm section in bassist Will Landin and drummer Wally Doggett. None of these songs cops out to cheap sentimentality or trite tropes. LaFave's grainy honeyed croon is the force that drives them, and splits them open for the listener to wedge into his words. Other love songs, such as "Shining On Through" and "I Wish for You," are more upbeat , though the searing tenderness and grace are ever-present. On the rockers, such as the rollicking "Bohemian Cowboy Blues" (featuring Gurf Morlix on guitar) and "Gotta Ramble," LaFave takes his barroom band through the changes and spits out his words with authority and raucous glee. Blue Nightfall is the finest studio recording of LaFave's career to date, and that's saying plenty.

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