“Limiting myself to a genre has never really been my thing,” says Pokey LaFarge. “I’m most purely a rambler. I’m traveling the world all the time, and my songs have been directly influenced by my travels. You’re liable to hear something in my songs that sounds like traditional jazz; next thing you know, you might be hearing something that sounds like Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skylinemixed with the chanson singers of France, or a waltz mixed with cumbia, or soul mixed with swing.”
Ever since his first record, 2006’s self-released Marmalade, LaFarge has been a difficult specimen to pin down, indeed. Though he was raised on a healthy diet of blues, bluegrass, ragtime, Western swing and old-time country — and though he has consistently demonstrated a decided affinity for pre-1950s menswear — the Illinois native is by no means a throwback or a museum piece. Timelessness, and refined good taste, is LaFarge’s raison d’être, and his influences are as multi-hued and wide-ranging as the rhythms that buoy his starkly poetic songs — rhythms that are steeped in the very essence of jazz.
“With me, lyrics are the most important thing,” he explains. “But when it comes to music, it’s just as much about the groove — something about the groove that makes me want to move, you know? There’s always a little bit of swing to it, something that’s got a bounce. I mean, people have been swinging for hundreds of years!”