Jimmy LaFave ‘Depending on the Distance' (Music Road Records)
“Depending on the Distance,” Jimmy LaFave's first studio album in five years, lives up to the intriguing promise of its title, finding the Oklahoma-Texas troubadour in a contemplative mood whether he is crooning his new original songs, covering an '80s pop smash or reinterpreting anthems penned by Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.
Much like his mentors Bob the Bard and Oklahoma songwriting icon Woody Guthrie, what the red dirt pioneer's voice lacks in technical prowess it more than makes up for rootsy, relatable authenticity. The Austin, Texas-based singer-songwriter, who spent his teen years in Stillwater and dug his musical roots in the red dirt hotbed, is in such a mellow mood on the follow-up to his 2007 “Cimarron Manifesto” that the passion of the achingly lovely opener indeed seems to come out of the “Clear Blue Sky” and the sharply written social commentary of “It Just Is Not Right” sneaks up to prick you in the conscience despite the tipoff of the title.
There's even an understated elegance to his rendition of John Waite's often-covered 1984 chart-topper “Missing You,” which LaFave strips of the cheesy, dated production and transforms into an emotionally layered guitar-and-piano ballad with the help of Oklahoma guitarist Travis Linville.