Pokey LaFarge

Unrepentantly old-school, with a nasal vibrato that can recall Jack White's, this 30-year-old is a perfect fit for the re-formed White Stripe's label. LaFarge taps into Western swing, Twenties jazz and country blues, with hot brass, banjo, lap steel and fiddle, making virtuosic artisanal pop that's less Mumford & Sons than Squirrel Nut Zippers. "Home Away From Home," an ode to Louisville, pairs cornet and clarinet with Louis Armstrong Hot Five flavor, and the similarly jazzy blues "What the Rain Will Bring" aims for timeless rather than retro: When LaFarge sings "Back in old '93/The Mississippi had her way with me," he means the 20th-century flood. It's music as vivid as your last disaster.

From The Archives Issue 1186: July 4, 2013