Various Artists

Putumayo Presents: Cajun

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Spurred on by the commercial success of their Zydeco release, Putumayo World Music has offered up a second helping of Southwest Louisianan musical vittles with Cajun. Essentially the flip side of zydeco -- which is a predominately Creole genre that's "a little jazz, a little blues, a little French, and a little rhythm 'n' blues" -- Cajun music is a rural genre that has grown out of French folk songs and other European stylings. This follow-up compilation includes 12 cuts, each recorded by a different Cajun band. With lyrics sung in French, and melodies primarily played on accordions and fiddles, the contemporary Cajun groups featured on this colorful compilation should give the listener a good introduction into today's Cajun scene. From Filé's opening track, "Pont de Vue," to the closing number by the Jambalaya Cajun Band, Cajun's optimistic ideology -- "laissez les bon temps roulez," or "let the good times roll" -- beams through and through. Perhaps in an effort to reinforce this "good times" vibe, all but one of the 12 cuts heard on Cajun are upbeat two-stepping numbers that drive one to knee slapping. The lone exception, David Doucet's "Balfa Waltz," reveals the moodier side of Cajun aesthetics. Though some Cajun purists may wince at the lack of waltzes -- and at some of the rock- and country-influenced cuts on the compilation -- Cajun does provide a very good introduction to the genre as it exists today. Extensive liner notes -- which offers an overview of Cajun music, a description of each track, and a recipe for red beans and rice -- help make this release educational and savory as well.

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