News – Jimmy LaFave
Updated: 8/8/07

Reviews for Cimarron Manifesto

“Cimarron Manifesto”: West Chester Daily Review, Sean Hickey

No one can argue that on his last three recordings, 2001’s Texoma, 2005’s Blue Nightfall, and here, on Cimarron Manifesto, Jimmy LaFave seems to be onto something. He’s been on as restless a journey as a songwriter can embark upon. He likes the raw bar–band sound and demands he be true to himself both on record and on the road. He’s a romantic, a true one, with wanderlust. He’s not a philosopher, he’s a man who is rooted deeply in the Oklahoma red dirt and its unique history, especially the dust bowl and the soil and the wide open spaces of Texas, and by what he’s seen; not just where he’s been. The cover art of this newest CD says it all. LaFave is standing to the left of a divide on an empty street in the middle of the night. He’s in the background, the forlorn street and an old hotel, whose lights are extinguished, are the real subjects here.

The album opens with “Car Outside.” With help from Kacy Crowley on backing vocals, the sum total of LaFave’s “manifesto” shows up and reveals itself in full, all the while digging at the heart of every person who feels the need to just go, no matter what it costs. It’s not the need to escape; it’s the need to just go. LaFave is as full of simple poetic romance and the ragged weariness and restlessness as Doc Pomus – who would contain a universe of thoughts and emotions in just a few lines. The band here supports LaFave well and includes guitarists Andrew Hardin, John Inmon, and dobro/lap steel boss Jeff Plakenhorn with Hammond B–3 player and pianist Radoslav Lorkovic...

His bluesy version of Joe South’s “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” brings it back into collective memory as the folk song it is. And ultimately that’s what LaFave establishes himself as on these last three recordings, a writer and singer of songs in the country, blues and rock idioms that are ultimately folk songs, all of this is in the reedy, sweet smoky voice of LaFave.

He’s been on a roll, and he shows no signs of slowing down. As fine a record as you’re likely to hear, Cimarron Manifesto is for all of us. You will hear yourself thinking and be caught in your emotions as you listen; you’ve been some of these people, and that’s the kind of connection the best singer and songwriters make.


“Cimarron Manifesto”: Winnipeg Free Press, Morley Walker

This underrated singer–songwriter from Austin, Texas, has never attracted mainstream attention, even though he makes albums that deserve respect.

His latest, a worthy followup to 2005’s Blue Nightfall, shows LaFave near the top of his game. His plaintive singing, superior backup band –– especially the Hammond organ and electric guitar –– and road–weary lyrics all speak of a distinctive personality.

It’s one thing to cover Bob Dylan, as LaFave does on almost every album, this time with “Not Dark Yet” from Time Out of Mind. It’s another to cover Donovan (with the early ’60s hit “Catch the Wind”). But LaFave makes them both his own.


“Cimarron Manifesto”: PopMatters, Lana Cooper

On his latest effort, Cimarron Manifesto, singer/songwriter Jimmy LaFave pays his respects to the Oklahoma roots of his hero, Woody Guthrie, and his own years in the territory. LaFave, himself a native Texan, was born in Wills Point and lived there until his family moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma during his school years. Quite a fixture on the Austin music scene, upon his return to Texas in 1986, LaFave racked up critical accolades among not only Austin–based publications, but periodicals across the country and two Austin Music Awards, in addition to other laurels. LaFave’s visibility on the musical radar increased with an appearance on Austin City Limits and at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tribute to Woody Guthrie, where he was hand–picked by Guthrie’s daughter to appear.

Surprisingly enough, LaFave’s geographical experiences ping–ponging between the two states influenced his music just as much as copious amounts of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan tunes did during his formative years. Hell, he even combined the two states on the title of his 2001 album, Texoma. And LaFave manages to tie together his love and admiration for his two spiritual hometowns and his folk heroes on his latest album. A cavalcade of Austin–based musicians crop up on Cimarron Manifesto, as does a Bob Dylan cover.

LaFave’s sound is much more Red Dirt than Red State, although geographically speaking, it would be easy to assume that, if the media were to be unquestionably believed, it reflects a “Hey! Everything’s alright!” musical mentality. On Cimarron Manifesto, LaFave recognizes that everything is not alright. Picking up the protest song mantle, he delivers the oh–so–Guthrie, “This Land,” combining a folk–based, traveling road song with a subdued sadness and depression regarding the state of the country. Tackling the subjects of poverty and war, the song invokes images of a Steinbeckian dust bowl in a contemporary setting: “I see people / Just stranded by the road / They’re hopeless and forgotten / While the milk and honey flows.”

Guest artist (and fellow Austin–ite) Carrie Rodriguez contributes both backing vocals and a mournful violin to “This Land,” and to the relatively cheerful and rollicking “Hideaway Girl”. The latter track is punctuated by rich, spirited fiddling that features LaFave in a rare, happy moment on the disc, sounding like a young man ready to carve his and his lady friend’s initials into a tree...

While most musical themes and concepts are pretty universal (boy meets girl, boy breaks up with girl, anger at parents and/or government), it’s becoming harder to find a touch of unique, local color in songs indicative of an area’s terrain ... or more importantly, its mindset. Sure, the Sunset Strip and various and sunny California locales continue to be immortalized in song, as has the gritty glamour of New York City in rock music. Hip–hop fails to show much of a difference in how things are done on the East Coast, West Coast, or the Dirty South. Country has become more gentrified, and thusly more mainstream and nationwide, bringing the Americana ideal to both pastoral and metropolitan areas above the Mason–Dixon Line. And thanks to the internet, faster means of transportation, and the Walmartization of the nation, combined with the ever–shrinking world becoming more of a global village united under the banner of cultural imperialism, it’s harder to fathom music inspired by simple, regional landscapes.

Regardless of how chipper or gloomy the music and subject matter of Cimarron Manifesto comes across, LaFave accomplishes what he sets out to do, serving up a slice-of-life as lived in his beloved corner of the country.


“Cimarron Manifesto”: Mike Thomas

Veteran Austin roots–rocker Jimmy LaFave is one of those rare guys who could sing selected passages from the Sears catalog and bring a grateful tear to your eye. His crystalline tenor conveys so much transparent emotion that it grants poignancy to sentiments that might ring trite or hackneyed otherwise. Likewise, the songwriter/guitarist has a knack for crafting simple, melodic jewels of pure feeling that don’t need to rely on fancy word play to dial in crisp and clear.

LaFave’s gift for earnest, barebones expression serves him very well on Cimarron Manifesto, a son of the Oklahoma prairie’s moving tribute to his native turf that reaches across state lines to reveal a deep bond with the sprawling American landscape at–large and its people and traditions. Yes, the irresistible lure of the wide open road and its perils and possibilities have been written and sung about countless times before, but never with more authentic wonder than LaFave brings to “Car Outside,” or his dreamy, incandescent take on Donovan’s “Catch the Wind.”

Right in line with the Bohemian cowboy persona (think Guthrie and Kerouac) that LaFave has cultivated over the years, he tempers the celebration with Beat sorrow over the compromised foundation values that stain an era of aimless conflict overseas and eroding social structures at home. None of Cimarron’s dozen songs better relays LaFave’s core message than his gorgeous version of “Not Dark Yet,” which transforms Bob Dylan’s spooky hymn of resignation into an aching plea for deliverance. Only a bona fide pro messes with a master’s best and makes it his own, and LaFave packs the vision and cojones to pull it off.

Refreshingly, this is one manifesto that also knows when to lighten up and get over its bad self. Still another inspired cover, a pew–rattlin’, gospel strut through Joe South’s “Walk A Mile In My Shoes,” spouts earthy, righteous resolve, and LaFave’s “That’s the Way It Goes” takes a wry look at lost innocence and time’s inevitable toll to a gritty, Faces–by–way–of–Chuck–Berry thump.

It all adds up to show that a simple, direct statement artfully rendered can speak volumes.


“Cimarron Manifesto”: Vintage Guitar Magazine, Steven Stone

Texas Native Jimmy La Fave has that sound. Perhaps it’s something in the water. He joins other Texas singer/songwriters such as Guy Clark, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Townes Van Zandt in his ability to evoke the feelings and images of America hidden behind fast superhighways and slick shopping malls.

musician in full command of his creative powers. LaFave’s deceptively simple vocal delivery and rich voice present songs with an honesty and power that few other singers can match. His physical abilities are matched by his songwriting skills.

LaFave also wears the producer’s hat, aided by engineer Fred Remmert and recorded at Cedar Creek Studios in Austin, Texas. The final sonic results are certainly worthy of the music. Direct and well orchestrated with little in the way of studio magic, Cimarron Manifesto sounds as honest and direct as La Fave’s songs. In a modern world chock a block full of artifice and illusion it’s refreshing to discover new music that gets back to the basics. If you are ready for music that embraces traditional values such as emotional honesty and lyrical style give Jimmy LaFave a listen.


“Cimarron Manifesto”: Texas Platters, David Lynch

Employing Woody Guthrie’s arrow and Bob Dylan’s bow, Jimmy LaFave hits an Austin City Limits/KGSR bull’s–eye with the singer–songwriter’s seventh studio album, No. 2 for Minnesota’s Red House. Bittersweet/nostalgic songs pray and play around folk, rock, and country, proving the Austin strummer’s continued mettle as composer and performer (three covers join nine originals). Opener “Car Outside” may have been stolen from the Band’s vault, while extra meaning is pulled from the Texoma troubadour’s half–time take of Donovan’s “Catch the Wind.” Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet” hits as if recorded by the Minnesotan’s next of kin, and “Lucky Man” is a nothing less than a generational gem. Guest harmonies by Carrie Rodriguez, Kacy Crowley, and Ruthie Foster add delight. Some may find the ballads–to–rocker ratio a bit sleepy, but LaFave’s aim remains true.


“One Hoarse Town: Jimmy LaFave”: DigNDirt Productions, Americanaroots.com, Shaun Harvey

A thoughtful writer’s heart that beats with the wounded, soulful voice of a poet...and even then there’s something unsaid in trying to describe the songs, the music, and the spirit of Jimmy LaFave. A long time fixture in the ever–vibrant music scene of Austin, Texas, Lafave has spent the last fifteen years carving out his place as one of Americana music’s truly exceptional artists. Cimarron Manifesto, his seventh album to date and second for Minnesota–based Red House Records, is a career defining statement.

Standing alone at night in the middle of an empty street somewhere in America...walking across a steel–span country bridge...moving through the hillside grasses of wide open spaces...strolling off into the fog down a two–lane dirt road...these are the images that grace the cover of Cimarron Manifesto...and before you even listen to a single note, these snapshots somehow capture the spirit of what lies ahead for the listener. But as the music begins and the first lines roll out through the speakers...we get the sense that Jimmy Lafave is drawn to the road and his road winds not only through the heart of a country but through the heart of a man as well.

“You know I’ll never understand it babe / The wanderlust in my soul / Though I want to be with you / Hey I don’t really know / Cause I’m looking out your window girl / And I’m driftin’ with the wind / Movin’ on is my middle name / Hey here I go again”

Those are the words that kick off “Car Outside,” the album’s opening track. And while the lyrics may suggest that we’re listening to a song simply about leaving, the tempo and the spirit of “Car Outside” suggests something more. It feels like a “roll the windows down” highway song and when it’s sung by the restless soul it seems to say that sometimes we have to leave purely because we have to go.

“There’s a car outside / There’s a road / There’s a time to stay / And a time to rock n roll.”

And while the road stretches out ahead of us, it’s the rearview mirror that reminds of us of where we’ve been and what we’ve left behind. What follows “Car Oustide” are the long shadows of sunset streaming across the highway as LaFave gives us the first of three cover songs with a powerful and emotional version of Donovan's “Catch the Wind.” LaFave’s take is slower and more heartfelt than the original and the longing in his voice gives the song a depth and a sadness that in many exceeds that of the original. What we’re left with is the sense of a single tear gathering in the mind’s eye and the combination of voice and musical backdrop give “Catch the Wind” the feeling of memory at the edge of a dying day.

“When sundown hails the sky / I want to hide awhile behind your smile / And everywhere I’d look your eyes I’d find / For me to love you now would be the sweetest thing / It would make me sing / But I may as well try and catch the wind.”

...Throughout Cimarron Manifesto’s twelve tracks Jimmy LaFave is part wanderer and part filled with wonder. In one moment he’s seeking out the forgotten protagonists from rock n roll’s past in the stompin’ beat of “That’s the Way It Goes”' only to stop us in our tracks with the love song tenderness of “Lucky Man.” In the next instant he’s joined by Ruthie Foster for the soulful and bluesy rendering of Joe South’s “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” only to tug once again at the heart’s strings in “Home Once Again.” LaFave balances the album with so motion and emotion that it almost rises and falls like road itself.

As it’s defined, a manifesto is a “declaration of motives and intentions by a person regarded as having some public importance.” With that in mind, we make one final stop before all is said and down and this journey finds its end. I’ve always considered Jimmy LaFave one of the greatest interpreters of Bob Dylan’s songs and I can’t imagine the song chosen for inclusion on this record was made on the basis of coincidence. It seems fitting that it ends with the opening lines of Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet”...in his own way Jimmy LaFave makes them his own:

“Shadows are falling, I’ve been here all day / It’s too hot to sleep and time is running away / Feels like my soul has turned into steel / I still got the scars the sun didn’t heal / There’s not even room enough to be anywhere / It’s not dark yet / But it’s getting there....”


“Cimarron Manifesto”: Pasadena Weekly

A dusky, beautifully framed snapshot of life in the heartland.


“Cimarron Manifesto”: Dallas Observer, Darryl Smyers

Although born in Wills Point, Texas, roots singer–songwriter Jimmy LaFave is more closely associated with Stillwater, Oklahoma, the place where he honed his pleasing mixture of folk, country and rock. LaFave calls what he does “red dirt music” and throughout his fine new effort, Cimarron Manifesto, he presents an earthy sentimentality that honors that description.

LaFave’s been releasing records for almost 20 years, but Cimarron presents a songwriter and interpreter who has mastered his influences instead of simply being beholden to them. Dylan has always been an inspiration for LaFave, but “Not Dark Yet” is done not as a tribute to a legendary songwriter, but as an exploration of the tune’s possibilities. The same goes for Donovan’s “Catch the Wind,” a sappy dose of ’60s schmaltziness that LaFave successfully turns into a modern ballad. Equally as effective are originals such as “Car Outside” and “Hideaway Girl,” songs that find LaFave sounding like the male version of Lucinda Williams.

Where older releases felt constricted, Cimarron breathes with the feelings of a man content with his talents, a man unafraid to sing and play deceptively simple songs. Featuring solid but unobtrusive folk/rock accompaniment, the dozen songs of Cimarron Manifesto play out like a well–written drama, a tribute to Texas, Oklahoma and the weathered souls that inhabit both places.


“Cimarron Manifesto: Red Dirt Tribute and More”, FolkWax, Arthur Wood

Jimmy LaFave and his family relocated from his birthplace of Wills Point, Texas, to Stillwater, Oklahoma, during his high school years. LaFave, initially a drummer, switched to guitar during his mid–teens and began writing songs soon afterwards. The Cimarron River passes close to Stillwater, before it joins the Arkansas River at Keystone Reservoir just above Tulsa, and the title Cimarron Manifesto is LaFave’s tribute to his red dirt Oklahoma years. LaFave moved to Austin, Texas, in 1986 and still resides there.

Counting his pair of Stillwater–era recordings, Cimarron Manifesto is LaFave’s eleventh album and his sophomore outing for the Minnesota–based Red House Records label...

The lyric to LaFave’s swampy, Blues-Rock–sounding “Truth” references “midnight out on the Tulsa County line,” as well as Oklahoma–bred music legend and one of the “Tulsa Sound” pioneers, J.J. Cale, while the song’s punch line is wrapped up in the maxim “Truth will set you free.” Slow, lingering ballads are a LaFave speciality and the celebratory “Lucky Man,” a father’s homage for a beloved child, is one of his finest – “What a lucky man just to see your face/There ain’t nothing about you that’s ever out of place.” A bright, airy love song, Carrie Rodriguez contributes her fiddle and voice to “Hideaway Girl” – “Long hair blowing in the tall grass wind like original sin,” and it’s followed by the tongue–in–cheek “That’s The Way It Goes,” a guitar riff–rich, raunchy sounding Blues–Rock workout that mentions characters celebrated in song including Johnny B. Goode, Long Tall Sally, Peggy Sue, Sweet Lorraine, and more, and goes on to reveal the truly unglamorous lives they really led.

One of the finest Dylan interpreters ever, from Time Out Of Mind [1997] LaFave tackles Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet.” Lyrically chock full of the narrator’s “dimming of the day” ruminations, it's followed by Joe South’s “Walk A Mile In My Shoes.” The latter, funky sounding number, peaked at #12 on the U.S. Pop singles charts during 1970 and has been covered by many including Elvis Presley, Brian Ferry, and the dance music duo Coldcut. South enjoyed great popularity during the 1960s and early 1970s, but hasn’t recorded any new material since 1975 and has rarely performed in public during the last three decades. Ruthie Foster’s soulful harmony vocal supports LaFave’s lead on this re–reading of South’s heartfelt appeal to practically demonstrate compassion and tolerance for your brother. The album closes with a trio of LaFave originals. The Bluesy “Don't Ask Me” is followed by “Home Once Again,” a ballad about reaching journey’s end and the one you love, while the similarly paced closing cut, “These Blues,” thoughtfully urges the listener to hold tight, as time will bring relief and healing. The latter is probably the best cut on Cimarron Manifesto and one I’ll soon hear LaFave perform onstage. It’s Kerrville time again...


“Cimarron Manifesto”: www.ThisIsTexas.com, Patrick Nichols

Jimmy LaFave possesses a wanderer’s soul, and when he crosses America today he’s often disappointed in what he sees. Conspicuous consumption. Senseless warfare. Disappearing freedoms. Crippling poverty. Artificial love. Reckless disregard for the truth. Thankfully, LaFave is not one to sit idly by and watch society wither away. Cimarron Manifesto is his powerful plea for a renewed civil society, a place where people respect one another and protect universal rights. “This Land” forms the central argument in LaFave’s complaint – a catalog of injustices peppered with one request: “I simply want my country back again.” The blues rocker “Truth” and a folksy cover of Bob Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet” help flesh out the societal grievance. But Cimarron Manifesto isn’t just one long socio–political screed. In fact, my favorite song – just as on 2005’s Blue Nightfall – is a love–letter from parent to child. No matter how much we love our children, inevitably they drive us crazy at times too. “Lucky Man” is a beautiful reminder of just how fortunate we are to have them here with us. And similarly, in this age of corporate consolidation and profiteering music conglomerates, we’re extremely lucky to have independent labels like Minnesota’s Red House Records. Home to LaFave and fellow free–thinking Austinite Eliza Gilkyson, among others, Red House remains true to its vision of providing a safe–haven for artists who make great music that also speaks to the common good.


“Cimarron Manifesto”: Allmusic.com, Thom Jurek

A Texas singer/songwriter once said of Jimmy LaFave early in his career: “He’s got a ton of talent and a vision, now all he needs is a personality.” This was as complimentary and positive a criticism as can be made of an artist early on, when they are still honing their vision, figuring out what works, live and in the studio, and what doesn’t. LaFave has been on as restless a journey as a songwriter can embark upon. He’s a person who doesn’t like to be produced; he likes the raw bar band stuff and demands he be true to himself both on record and on the road. He’s a romantic, a true one, with wanderlust. He’s not a philosopher, he’s a man who is rooted deeply in the Oklahoma red dirt and its unique history, especially the dust bowl and the soil and the wide open spaces of Texas, and by what he’s been, not just where, and no one would argue that the songs weren’t there from the beginning: “Buffalo Return to the Plains,” the title track from his 1995 album, is an excellent example. But no one can argue that on his last three recordings, 2001’s Texoma, 2005’s Blue Nightfall, and here, on Cimarron Manifesto, he’s onto something, though just what that is is mercurial, and perhaps could use the guidance of a very sensitive and firm producer to bring it out in a different way, but it’s in the songs to be sure and there is an established personality in there, a stamp that is indelible. It’s tattooed on the inside, on the heart where it belongs. LaFave offers 12 cuts, three of which are covers. And speaking of covers, the ones on the CD tells you a lot about what’s inside, but it doesn’t give it all away. LaFave is standing to the left of a split on an empty street in the middle of the night. He’s in the background almost, the forlorn street and an old hotel, whose lights are extinguished, are the real subjects here. The left side of the road, the street lights, and LaFave in the middle of the emptiness standing firm sums it up. (No major label would have ever gone for this cover, though it’s utterly striking and, in its own way, intense.) The album opens with “Car Outside.” With help from Kacy Crowley on backing vocals, the sum total of LaFave’s “manifesto” shows up and reveals itself in full, all the while digging at the heart of every person who feels the need to just go, no matter what it costs. It’s not the need to escape; it’s the need to just go.

In four/four rock shuffle time, LaFave is as full of simple poetic romance and the ragged weariness and restlessness as Doc Pomus (who would contain a universe in a few lines and combine all the elements within them, as in “Lonely Avenue”) and LaFave can do the same in certain songs here. In a few minutes, with a refrain that repeats almost too often, he and Crowley lay out the essence of his protagonist’s character. He doesn’t have to go alone, he extends an offer, but seeing a highway, he needs to go, with or without her. It’s then that we realize the offer is half–hearted and he’s already gone. This is the other side of Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road.” This isn’t about hope, desperation or redemption, it’s a song about what is: the lost highway of the soul and the need to stay on it, heading toward an unknown that is enough in itself because it’s all passing so quickly: the nation, the daylight, the number of connections any human being can make with another. Of course it can’t be reached and the singer knows that, but that’s not the point. The band here supports LaFave well and includes guitarists Andrew Hardin, John Inmon, and dobro/lap steel boss Jeff Plakenhorn with B–3 player and pianist Radoslav Lorkovic. The B–3 has a central role on this album, it is its atmosphere, the place the guitars can enter and float through because it is as constant as the sky itself, the album’s centerpiece and the extension of “Car Outside.” This is Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath extended to the entire world and told so simply in a country song. The Woody Guthrie in LaFave isn’t a pose. In this song he’s seeing the horror of the dust bowl spread out over the entirety of America where the poor and suffering increase as his nation abandons itself to oblivion on foreign soil and spreads the sickness in its soul. There’s nothing nostalgic in this tune; it’s as current as his next breath and the one that just passed. In under five minutes LaFave spells it out to the whine of a dobro, a brushed snare and fiddles, and Carrie Rodriguez’s backing vocal. As the protagonist in the “car outside” moves on the highway he reflects on the question of a war that makes no sense to him and the death of people because of it that nonetheless bears the stamp of this nation’s loss of identity. “The only thing I know to say my friends/I simply want my country back, again/I’ve been driving through the American night/And I slowly watch my freedoms, disappear right out of sight/Traveling through this land...." Rodriguez’s lonely fiddle solo offers both motion and elegy, and LaFave sings: “I see people/just stranded by the road/The hopeless and forgotten/Where all the milk and honey flows/Traveling through/this land." There is no metaphor, it’s Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath in the streets of American cities, towns and rural communities, while its sons and daughter die on foreign soil.

The blues come to roost on “Truth,” a B–3 and dirty guitar driven rocker (that could have been more ragged, but whatever) where the driver’s got J.J. Cale on the box in the “red dirt night” and he’s looking at the truth of comfort, the truth of the flesh. It’s got to be the only tune where the phrase “the truth will set you free” is equated with the hip shake of a beautiful woman. It’s got humor in its desperation. There are some songs about family: “Lucky Man” (a track that would not have been out of place on Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love album) -- perhaps LaFave’s character would like to be lucky and even hopes for. In fact, “Hideaway Girl” and “Home Once Again” reflect the other side of LaFave’s songwriting character, but by the time we get to “That’s the Way It Goes,” a rock & roll tune that humorously mourns the death of the greatest characters in the music who’ve either sold out (Johnny B. Goode goes to work for the C.I.A.), disappeared, or been erased because of the music biz. (Pomus would have loved this song because it sums up the way he felt long before he passed away.) And then there are the covers. First things first and it’s the thing that is sometimes head scratching about LaFave’s records: you have to have balls to cover Donovan’s “Catch the Wind,” but he does it, soft, and slow and sweet. It fits with “Car Outside” but is a seemingly curious cut to follow that song with, until you get deeper into the recording. The two other covers are an otherworldly reading of Bob Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet” that encapsulates everything LaFave’s protagonist feels; it’s done with real vulnerability and grace. The other is a funky, bluesy version of Joe South’s “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” that brings it back into collective memory as the folk song it is. And ultimately that’s what LaFave establishes himself as on these last three recordings, a writer and singer of songs in the country, blues and rock idioms that are ultimately folk songs. They are offered by him as a way of connecting, even for the briefest of moments, in something approaching community. It’s the community of shared experience, inside and out, with all those other lost souls wandering through their lives wondering what the hell happened, or the other ones: those ever on some lost highway road chasing something undefined and perhaps unattainable as life flies by them on the right. The need for home is apparent everywhere, even if home becomes ever more of a myth in these dark times, all of this is in the reedy, sweet smoky voice of LaFave. He’s been on a roll, and he shows no signs of slowing down. With the right producer, someone who understands his independent nature and can focus it further, he’d become a household name; he still might. As fine a record as you’re likely to hear in the idiom, Cimarron Manifesto is for all of us. You will hear yourself thinking and be caught in your emotions as you listen; you’ve been some of these people, and that’s the kind of connection the best singer and songwriters make.


View the video for “This Land.”

Read reviews for Jimmy’s album Texoma.