L' Echo

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The Cajun band BeauSoleil is living proof that just because you play within the tradition, that doesn't mean you have to cleave to every old-time performance practice. This album is dedicated to past masters of the Cajun art, but it also features atypical Cajun instruments like the banjo, vibraphone, and the steel guitar. In addition the repertoire and arrangements push the boundaries, too. The result is that tasty confection one could call "art folk." Most of the songs are standouts, so it's hard to pick examples, but one is "Lizette La Douce," which is an old blues number from the '20s. It sounds like a cross between early jazz and Django Reinhardt, featuring banjo, rhythm guitar, and the cloppity-clop style of '20s drumming. BeauSoleil leader Michael Doucet wisely resisted the temptation to transform it into a Cajunized fox-trot. Another really fun tune is "La Cravatte a Ziggy Zag," which is a rollicking children's two-step with tongue-twisting lyrics about the best way to dress. The album crosses the line between thoughtful and fun and should not be missed. Its only fault is that the liner notes do not include the lyrics in either French or English.

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