Jimmy Lafave

Blue Nightfall (Red House)

SXSW Records

Jimmy Lafave

Blue Nightfall (Red House)

For most musicians, a new label means reinvention, reinvigoration, big or small. Following six releases on Denver indie Bohemia Beat (once home to locals Michael Fracasso and Abra Moore), Austin's Jimmy LaFave steps up and into Minnesota's roomy songwriter label, Red House (home to Eliza Gilkyson). He's brought with him a breakup album. Nice house-warming gift, right? Actually, yes. A marked improvement over his final Bohemia Beat album, Texoma (2001), LaFave's Red House bow isn't his statement of purpose (1992 debut Austin Skyline), Road Novel ('97), or his Basement Tapes ('99's 2-CD Trail). Instead, Blue Nightfall is LaFave's turn from outbound youth to the insight of experience. Heartbreak, for its part, cares not about age. Musically, Lafave's comfortably settled in a rootsy AAA bed. The easy acoustic tempo of "Sweet Sweet Love" whiffs Tom Petty's Southern accent, while "River Road" wets a fine Springsteen mist. The title track feels sorry for itself, and "Rain Falling Down" isn't any better ("I'm the restless wind, you are the rain falling down"), but the turning point is "I Wish for You," which almost falls in that same category, except maudlin good wishes for an ex are universal. The emotion in "When You Were Mine" sells it, but if "Bohemian Cowboy Blues" is a dig at the singer's former label, it's not readily apparent. Probably a coincidence, except few believe in coincidence, and Blue Nightfall is no happenstance. (Saturday, March 19, 12mid @ Opal Divine's Freehouse)

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