Jimmy LaFave

The Night Tribe (Music Road Records)

Texas Platters: Summer Breeze

Singer-songwriters should never require a lyric sheet. Every word needs to sound as loud and proud as the printed page. Dedicated by its author to the "Kerouac people: The all night waitresses, the 24-hour truck stop attendant ... and especially my songwriter and musical brethren who drive deep into the darkness on their long journey home," The Night Tribe thrives on a 4am restlessness. A supple, Springsteen-esque lope graces "Maybe," complete with Roy Bittan-like piano from Radoslav Lorkovi´c, central to LaFave's nocturnal balladry. The rich organ and pedal steel-lined devastation of relationship draw "It's Not on Me" betrays Nebraska grit, while the glide of "Never Came Back to Memphis" rides as smooth as solo Don Henley hits. Fifty-five minutes at dashboard night-light tempos lulls here ("Trying to Get Back to You") and lachrymose there ("Talk to an Angel"), but sign posts mark the way. A leading Dylan interpreter, LaFave gives "Queen Jane Approximately" his deep red whine treatment – full-bodied, sugary, spiked with tannins. Likewise a cover of Neil Young's "Journey Through the Past" harvests a melancholic Seventies vibe. The title track's Crazy Horse solo on a lucid On the Road lyric works wonders. The Night Tribe is the right tribe.

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