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He Who Makes Dylan Seem Inauthentic...On Kazoo

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Pokey LaFarge’s eponymous 2013 release has me musing about what a Lafarge and Madeleine Peyroux duet album might be like.  Pokey LeFarge sounds like a Peyroux album, a male one of course, and that is a fine compliment for these twelve tunes.  It is certainly different from some of his earlier work which is more recognizable as American roots, like early Dylan, rather than something to suit Preservation Hall.

He has released traditional American music throughout his career, the kind you cannot auto tune or fake, with great finger picking and lyrics and voices that do not require a big board of buttons to reproduce.  LaFarge is one of those guys who could show up at a church picnic, or any other outdoor event, and recreate his work in a completely recognizable fashion.  Playing on a roof may not be notable as a career event for LaFarge and his band. LaFarge usually tours with a five-piece band made up of Joey Glynn, Adam Hoskins, Ryan Koenig, Chloe Feoranzo, and T.J. Muller. Not a one of them needs to play on a roof to prove they still play; it’s as real as it gets.

Where to Start?

For me, Beat, Move, and Shake is the best of the albums, with just the right mix of Dylan’s early American roots music and the now all mixed together...with kazoos, that one instrument that kids love and few can master.  I’m not sure I can call LaFarge and his band mates masters of the kazoo, but most of their albums have a couple of kazoo solos—seemingly authentic, unprocessed ones.  And that has to be a high-water mark for listenable music: good kazoo.

That's the case for all of LaFarge’s albums, real music—not sounding like it’s coming from crackling 78s though, but like clear, present, now-music that references the past with authenticity and makes you want to hear him and his band live.


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