Honey Island Swamp Band

Cane Sugar

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Named after a very real swamp that lies near the border of Louisiana and Mississippi, the Honey Island Swamp Band is aptly named, with a roots sound that incorporates the best of both states, a swampy mix of blues, soul, country, R&B, and the New Orleans rhythms of the group's hometown. With four strong and soulful vocalists, plenty of beautiful, rustic four-part harmonies, Chris Mule's incredible slide guitar, a Hammond B-3, and a rhythm section that's Muscle Shoals funky, these guys are like the Band, Little Feat, Dr. John, the Meters, and the Allman Brothers all rolled into one New Orleans second-line package, with enough country in there to make Gram Parsons or George Jones a part of the mix, too. This is an impressive, fully formed band with a vision and good songs, and on Cane Sugar, the group's fourth album, they've put it all together with verve, clarity, and energy. Every song has muscle and depth, from the swampy country shuffle that opens things, "Change My Ways," through the Allman Brothers-like "Prodigal Son," to the delightfully bouncy and feisty title tune, "Cane Sugar." The whole album swaggers with intelligence and heart, and when the horns come in, or Mule's swooping slide, or those gritty, wonderful vocal harmonies, one can't help but feel that this is Americana done up in true Louisiana style, a Southern rock bayou gumbo that makes this a very special album, one that hits all the cylinders, pulls all the right strings, and then heads straight for the open-all-night dancefloor.

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