Like most of us, Pokey LaFarge was ready to move forward in March 2020. In anticipation of spending considerable time touring in support of his then forthcoming album, Rock Bottom Rhapsody, LaFarge placed his belongings in storage and left his Los Angeles home. He was excited about showcasing his new songs and to launch the album with his band at SXSW. Then came the pandemic shutting down live music along with the rest of the economy. Faced with the prospect of being stuck in East Austin with nowhere to go, LaFarge got to work. With nine previous albums under his belt, LaFarge used the change in plans to his advantage, having his greatest period of personal growth during the pandemic.
Refusing to rest on his laurels, songs started to flow freely. LaFarge would head to Chicago, the city where he grew up, and wrote half the songs on the album with his best friend Nick Africano over FaceTime. LaFarge is always motivated and ready to create, and at peace in isolation the results proved to be extraordinary. He drew inspiration from the deep soul of distant places like South America and Africa, setting out to create a body of work pairing emotional lyrics with a killer groove and catchy melodies.
Co-produced by Chris Seefried, In the Blossom of Their Shade is one of LaFarge’s strongest and most mature lyrical efforts to date. The album’s title is taken from a lyric in the song “Mi Ideal,” a song that draws influences from the Southwest, South America and the Caribbean. “Rotterdam” makes it easy to hear the dream-like song that captures a notion of paradise even in the most unusual places. “Goodnight, Goodbye (Hope Not Forever), neatly wraps up the past year along with a universal longing that brighter days are ahead. The entire album showcases the positive aspects of coming out of the darkness and into the light. LaFarge intentionally crafted songs that created space with melodies that can glide through a composition that’s different from the Swing and Blues-infused songs of his earlier work. It was his rigorous work ethic that got him through the challenging time of pandemic and lockdowns. His reward has been early airplay across the format, including 88.5FM/L.A., WFPK, WOXL, WMOT, WRSI and KHUM to name just a few.
Photo by Eliot Lee Hazel