Various Artists

Swamp Music, Vol. 9: New Trail Riders - The Big Cajun Squeeze

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This last volume in the excellent Swamp Music series proves to be its most disappointing. As a way of showcasing the evolution of Cajun and zydeco, they've illustrated the "normalization" of music that is by its very nature weird, strange, and beautiful. As for zydeco music, given what is in evidence here, it no longer exists as zydeco but a mutated form of Cajun folk that uses one rhythm and emphasizes musical prowess rather than communicating the idea of song or dance to an audience. Sure, all of these cats can play -- probably a lot better than their forbears -- but it doesn't mean they have the same soul in their roll. The music here by acts such as Steve Riley, La Rue, Tasso, File, Jimmy Thibodeaux & the Gumbo Band, Balfa Toujours -- descendents of Dewey and his brothers Al Berard and others is fine for what it is, but it feels sterile as if the teeth were removed from it when they tried to kick the tempo up another notch or two and slicken up the instrumental aspects of the music. This disc is for Yankees only, or for those who don't really like Cajun and zydeco, just the idea of it. If this is the new trail, take me back by the dirt road.

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