Dennis Stroughmatt & Creole Stomp

Creole Stranger

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In the wake of "My Toot-Toot," both Cajun and zydeco music became something of a flavor of the month in roots rock circles, and a lot of bands that had the same relationship to the music of Clifton Chenier that Led Zeppelin had to American blues started playing an inoffensive, watered-down version of the music that did true Louisiana artists no favors. (Many of these bands also started using the terms "Cajun" and "zydeco" interchangeably, a misapprehension roughly akin to conflating, say, the Carter Family and Robert Cray.) Happily, Dennis Stroughmatt & Creole Stomp go a long way toward rectifying those problems. Creole Stranger has the rollicking snap of a classic Balfa Brothers set, but it seamlessly updates the traditional Cajun sound with electric instrumentation that modernizes the sound without diluting it. Stroughmatt, a fiddler and button accordion player with roots in both Louisiana and Acadian Canada, sings the French Creole lyrics in a pleasantly gruff voice refreshingly free of the affectations of many non-natives who attempt Cajun music, and plays both of his instruments with a fierce rhythmic intensity and little time for flashy solos. The 15 tracks mix a handful of originals with a well-chosen selection of both old Cajun standards like Amédé Ardoin's "Blues a Basile" and some repurposed R&B tunes like "Baby Please Don't Go" and "Suzy Q," which work surprisingly well in these percolating new arrangements.

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