LaFave seems to have a relatively small, but very strong following. It also seems that some people want to lump him in with the whole Austin scene, a scene that, in my opinion, has a whole damn boatload of people who seem to want to holler real loud for anyone from that neck of the woods, regardless of whether they know what the hell they are hollering about or not. One reviewer who ultimately ended up saying some good things about this recording found it necessary to preface his review with the statement "you must first love Texas music." Bullshit. Thankfully, LaFave does seem to know what he's singing about, and he'll sing about most anything -- in most any style you can imagine.
It has been said that in the hearts of music loving Oklahomans, LaFave is second in line for favorite homeboy status, waiting dutifully behind J.J. Cale. These are two totally different artists, though. While J.J. Cale did write some excellent songs that ended up being rockers, his songs usually only turned into full-fledged rockers when they were in the hands of other musicians or bands. When artists like Eric Clapton or Lynryd Skynyrd covered a J.J. Cale song, the song often took on a whole new complexion. J.J. Cale himself epitomized the term "laid back" in most all of his renderings of his own songs. LaFave is a totally different animal.
LaFave covers a lot of the same territory that Cale did, he just covers it in a variety of ways. His songs range from the hauntingly beautiful "Love Can Find Its Own Way" to the almost hymn-like offer of encouragement that is "Glorious Day." His cover of the John Phillips-penned "San Francisco" almost makes you forget that the '60s and John Phillips are both gone. LaFave can also rock. "On the Road to Rock and Roll," and particularly, his cover of "Rock and Roll Music to the World," rock out with the best of them, the latter strongly recalling some of The Georgia Satellites fabulous hooks. As a matter of fact, many of LaFave's songs seem to have whatever those indefinable hooks and other elements are that take an artist from the level of regional favorite to radio staple, an occurrence that probably hasn't really happened since Stevie Ray Vaughan broke his way in. LaFave will never enjoy this sort of success, but I'd bet that after it hooks you, you'll find yourself regularly returning to this CD. You'll likely still have this one in some sort of rotation 10 or 20 years from now.
Bohemia Beat Records, 2300 S Cook St., Denver, CO 80210, 303-691-8218; http://www.bohemiabeat.com; Jimmy LaFave, PO Box 2500, Austin, TX 78768; http://www.jimmylafave.com