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Album of the Week: 'Rhumba Country' by Pokey LaFarge

Album cover for Pokey LaFarge's 2024 album "Rhumba Country." Pokey is sitting on a white platform with water behind him. He is holding an acoustic guitar there are flowers overlaid on the photo around him.
Pokey LaFarge's new album Rhumba Country was released on May 10, 2024.

'Rhumba Country' by Pokey LaFarge is KAXE's Album of the Week for June 3-9, 2024.

What makes “country music” country? Or “folk” folk and “soul” soul?

These broad questions about the nature of musical genres were on Pokey LaFarge's mind while creating his new record Rhumba Country. He found the answer he was looking for in unlikely places: in music from around the world. Despite the perceived Americanness of country music, Lafarge realized everybody has their own form of country music.

That discovery appears in the retro world music that meets the Americana roots vibe of Rhumba Country. South American music styles like samba and rhumba are paired with rockabilly and country for mesmerizing results. LaFarge cites the Brazilian musician Jorge Ben as an influential source whose style helped to simplify his approach to writing the songs for Rhumba Country.

His move to a farm in rural Maine also influenced his 11th album, where he worked 12-hour days plowing fields and sowing seeds. LaFarge credits his days working in the fields for a surge of creativity that “redefined my sense of purpose as an artist”.

He blends genres effortlessly on this record and can leave the listener simultaneously bopping and scratching their head. The overall vibe is familiar yet exotic.

The album's lead single “Sister Andre” is a foot-tapping, hip-shaking soul tune inspired by the true story of a French nun who passed away at the age of 118 and it encourages all of us to never give up on the search for love.

Pokey LaFarge, whether busking in the streets or working in the fields, has committed himself to express joy in his music and Rhumba Country is true to that sentiment!

Must listens:

  • "One You, One Me"
  • "For A Night"
  • "Run Run Run"
  • "Like A Sailor"
  • "Sister Andre"
  • "So Long Chicago"

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Dan was born on the south side of Chicago and remembers dancing to Booker T and the MG's as his 1st musical memory. What followed has been a lifelong adventure of hearing new music and being exposed to the people and communities that produced the artists. Forwards in all directions!