Few musicians ever get the chance to forge their own path, blazing
musical territory previously unexplored. Stillwater singer-songwriter
Jimmy LaFave is one of them, helping etch out a place for the Red Dirt
genre within the scope of American music.
LaFave, however, has not seen the stardom that fellow Red Dirt pioneers Cross Canadian Ragweed and Stoney LaRue have, if only because the thoughtful performer never quite pandered to the beer-swilling crowds.
His latest release, Depending on the Distance, follows suit; its 13 inspiring tracks have all the country flair of the brothers with whom he helped form the Red Dirt scene, but with clearer vision and a bigger heart.
Where its heavyweights might have come to focus more on the Waylon Jennings and Lynyrd Skynyrd end of the spectrum, LaFave quietly reminds listeners that Leon Russell, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton have their place in that world’s roots as well.
Opener “Clear Blue Sky” is a humble and sincere tune anyone can enjoy, while “Missing You” at times recalls Bruce Springsteen. The middle portion drags a bit, but things pick right back up with the honky-tonk burst of “Red Dirt Night” and the saucy “Bring Back the Trains.”
With Distance, LaFave isn’t blazing any more trails, but given the ones he’s already carved, it’s more than all right to see him taking the scenic route. —Joshua Boydston