As Smithsonian Folkways moved into the early 21st century, it expanded its catalog to not only include the reissues and collections of field recordings for which the label is most renowned, but also contemporary artists who have a bit more of a commercial reputation outside the folkloric community. One example was this 2008 release by Michael Doucet, who had reached one of the widest audiences of any Cajun performer in the decades prior to this recording, particularly in his work with Beausoleil. The way in which this CD was done, though, had more in common with the typical Smithsonian Folkways release than those done for bigger labels. It was cut, according to a note by Doucet in the booklet, "live in three sessions with no rehearsals, overdubs, or song lists." While Doucet usually played fiddle and octave violin, he also moved to the guitar for one number and the accordion for another. Additionally, though he performs unaccompanied on eight of the 19 songs, on some he's joined by fiddler Mitchell Reed and on others, less expectedly, by New Orleans jazz and funk guitarist Todd Duke. The material ranges from Doucet originals to covers of songs by Allen Toussaint and Hoagy Carmichael, as well as the blues standards "You Gotta Move" and "St. Louis Blues." It's buoyantly eclectic Cajun music, and if it's pretty sparse in the arrangement department, that seems intentional and part of its appeal. The tracks featuring Duke are undoubtedly the most unusual and interesting here, as he's pretty successful in investing Doucet's brand of Cajun music with something of a New Orleans R&B feel. Doucet sings occasionally too, and though his vocals are much less impressive facets of his art than his instrumental skills, they fit adequately into the atmosphere of this CD.
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger