Various Artists

New Orleans: Rebuild Restore Rejoice

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Beyond the obvious connection of the title, New Orleans: Rebuild Restore Rejoice doesn't draw any direct lines to the devastation wrought by the landfall of Hurricane Katrina at summer's close in 2005, which doesn't mean that these tracks recorded by various artists on the Mardi Gras Records roster aren't a reflection of life after the storm. Track after track reaches for joy and rebirth as if nothing else really mattered, and if Katrina as a benchmark is never mentioned, it probably doesn't have to be. Highlights include a pair of wonderfully loose and joyous second-line pieces from Dejan's Olympia Brass Band ("It Ain't My Fault" and "Wade in the Water"), Irma Thomas' elegant "Ruler of My Heart," and Beau Jocque's odd rockin' zydeco version of "I'm a Girl Watcher." Made especially poignant by the fallout from Katrina, this little sampler is made powerfully compelling by the sheer joy and hope for the future sketched out in these tracks.

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