Perhaps the most relevant question asked by Jimmy LaFave on Cimarron Manifesto is: “Whatever happened to Johnny B. Goode?” Except for a couple of tracks, this is LaFave’s quietest, prettiest, most sensitive record — and that’s saying a lot, as LaFave has done a lot of quiet, sensitive and pretty songs. For a guy who occasionally used to play it pretty hard (get the ragged but right Trail to hear him in rock-out mode), LaFave takes the soft shoulder here with a beautiful but decidedly unmuscular handful of originals and three covers.
Although veteran guitarist John Inmon gets off a few hot licks, LaFave’s voice commands the spotlight throughout on slow ballads such as “Home Once Again” and rootsy originals including “Car Outside” and the Woody Guthie referential “This Land”, with its questions about the war and other social ills.
As usual with LaFave, the lyrics are full of moons, lonesome highways, open roads, departures, homecomings, and those pesky relationship doubts that come in the middle of a long night drive. While a cover of Donovan’s “Catch The Wind” meanders and feels overwrought, LaFave finds a mellow groove on Joe South’s Classic “Walk A Mile In My Shoes”.