Le Roux

Ain't Nothing But a Gris Gris

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After nearly two decades out of the spotlight (their most recent release, So Fired Up, had been issued some 16 years earlier in 1983), the re-formed Le Roux convened co-founders Leon Medica (bass), Tony Haselden (guitar), David Peters (drums), and Rod Roddy (keyboards) along with 1981 recruit Jim Odom (guitar) and latest additions Nelson Blanchard (keyboards, vocals) and Boo Pourciau (drums, vocals). The time off and influx of talent net Le Roux one of their overall best efforts. Prominent and welcome are the return of exceptional material and the departure from the hair metal style they had evolved into. "Love's Gotta Hold On Me" unleashes the affair with a thick and gumbo-fied backbeat, strutting eagerly behind a full-bodied Bayou setting in Roddy's R&B organ inflections and the malleable rhythm section of Medica and Pourciau. The results lie somewhere between "classic" Little Feat and the Meters. Better still is the infectiously fun chorus and syncopated bounce driving "My Heaven Can't Wait." Medica's ballad "Everything That I Love" is an unquestionable return to vintage Le Roux, with traces of their signature "New Orleans Ladies" surfacing in the songwriting and melody. They return to the sound of the swamps on the project's title track, "Nothing But a Gris Gris." While not quite as playful as the reading Le Roux had previously worked up -- heard as a supplementary side on the expanded edition of the Keep the Fire Burnin' CD -- it remains a thoroughly scintillating ride. Medica's "Closing In On You" is another impressive rocker with a distinct Cajun-flavored bop simmering just below the inoculably funky tune. "Your Always Right" (sic) increases the tempo a notch with the loosest and most soulful groove on the album. While lyrically it is no great shakes, the performers hit a pocket that would be a perfect candidate for further exploration in the unrestrained forum of a live show. Blanchard closes 2000's Ain't Nothing But a Gris Gris with his own heartfelt tale of enduring love on "I'll Be Over You" -- focusing on his considerable and multifaceted presence.

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