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Pokey LaFarge's 'Must Be A Reason' Explores Identity And Love — And St. Louis

The contours of Pokey LaFarge's music have always evoked a time before he was born, but the here-and-now is center stage in the themes and messaging within.

LaFarge explains in an email that his new album, Manic Revelation,is about "confronting your city, its relation with the world, and all its people." The tune he's premiering today, "Must Be A Reason," is steeped in a soulful Memphis sound, breaking from the western swing and blues of his past five albums.

Pokey writes that this new one is about "the clash between an alter ego and the idea of who I think I am; a woman I love but may never understand, and love itself, which is a thing that causes me to do amazing and sometimes drastic things in order to hold on to it."

Pokey grew up in the rust belt between St. Louis and Chicago, before settling for good in the former. Much of his musical inspiration in sourced from his adopted home — and the relationships he's cultivated there made this new video possible.

"The idea was a continuous take," director explained in an email, "moving through St. Louis as Pokey sings his broken heart out ... It was a bit like live theater. Pokey gets eighty-sixed from his favorite watering hole, The Whisky Ring.

"Cinematographer Patrick Pierson and I flew in from Minneapolis for the weekend, not sure what to expect. But we soon had our locations, cast and crew, through Pokey's hometown contacts ... All the locations were favors, which I've heard were paid off with live performances. Pokey's band and friends pitched in behind camera and on screen."

Pokey LaFarge'sManic Revelationwas released last week on . He just started an extensive U.S. tour — go and see him if you can.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.