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Pokey LaFarge – Rock Bottom Rhapsody (2020) [Official Digital Download 24bit/48kHz]

Pokey LaFarge – Rock Bottom Rhapsody (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 37:09 minutes | 466 MB | Genre: Country
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © New West Records

‘The man singing these songs isn’t exactly the same man who wrote them,’ says Pokey LaFarge of Rock Bottom Rhapsody, his eighth and latest studio release. ‘This album is about the story of who I used to be.’ In early 2018, LaFarge ‘ searching for the sort of artistic freedom and inspiration he wasn’t finding in the Midwest ‘ relocated from his longtime home base of St. Louis, Missouri, to Los Angeles, California. New songs came quickly to LaFarge in his new environment, but new temptations soon found him, as well. Though he declines to get into specifics, LaFarge admits that he experienced a significant ‘fall from grace’ during the last months of 2018. ‘Things sort of started to unravel in my mind,’ Shortly before the recording of Rock Bottom Rhapsody began, LaFarge experienced a spiritual awakening ‘ and the faith he re-embraced in his hour of darkness helped to buoy him through the making of the album. Though he was struggling for spiritual equilibrium at the time, LaFarge at least had some rock-solid musical support to lean on. Recorded primarily at Reliable Recorders on Chicago’s Northwest side, Rock Bottom Rhapsody was produced by LaFarge’s friend and collaborator Chris Seefried (who also co-wrote several of the album’s tracks), and features the considerable talents of guitarist Joel Paterson, keyboardist Scott Ligon, upright/electric bassist Jimmy Sutton, and drummer Alex Hall. Musically, LaFarge continues to mix and match a wide variety of styles and traditions, while never losing track of his own vision This record is kind of like Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan hanging out with chanson singers and French jazz bands in like the forties, but I was never trying to make it sound like a particular person. Despite the trying period that preceded its recording, Rock Bottom Rhapsody is ultimately far more uplifting and life-affirming than its title would suggest. ‘That desperation, that struggle,’ LaFarge ponders, ‘Did it add something to the record? It certainly did. I mean, I don’t know if it made it better; it just is what it is. It’s not up to me to decide if people are going to feel that’

With this improbable name and incredible face, it is quickly made plain that with Pokey LaFarge, fans of dubstep and math rock can both switch sides… since 2006, this troubadour of modern Americana has juggled bluegrass, western swing, folk, country blues, ragtime and all the sepia-hued musics of yesteryear that he knows like the back of his hand. Beautiful, timeless Rock Bottom Rhapsody and its Dylanian accents (2000s period) recount a radical turn in the life of Pokey LaFarge – or Andrew Heissler as he is known to the government – who left St. Louis for Los Angeles in 2018. It was a journey that left him on the skids, tormented by depression and addictions of all kinds. This 2020 offering is above all about who he was rather than who he is now. He was on a highway to hell, but he was saved by a spiritual and religious awakening. “I wrote this record before the fall from grace and then it was recorded after the fall from grace. So you see how that could be kind of odd. What I was searching for was peace and humility in the aftermath of the carnage, of things I had wrecked, and — seemingly at the time — completely destroyed. I was just, like, trying to survive; I had to fight every time to get up to that microphone and just sing. It was kind of like a last stand, like the Alamo, or something.” Produced by Chris Seefried (Fitz and The Tantrums) and recorded with guitarist Joel Paterson, pianist Scott Ligon, bassist Jimmy Sutton and drummer Alex Hall, Rock Bottom Rhapsody is not just a nice cabaret number about self-destruction but rather a real inner ballad from the soul of a gifted artist. An eclectic Americana journey beautifully set to music. – Marc Zisman


1. Rock Bottom Rhapsody
2. End Of My Rope
3. Fuck Me Up
4. Bluebird
5. Rock Bottom Reprise
6. Lucky Sometimes
7. Carry On
8. Just The Same
9. Fallen Angel
10. Storm-A-Comin’
11. Ain’t Comin’ Home
12. Lost In The Crowd
13. Rock Bottom Finale


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