BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet – From Bamako to Carencro (2013)

BeauSoleil’s first studio recording since 2009′s Alligator Purse finds Michael Doucet’s frisky amalgam retracing Louisiana music’s journey from West Africa to the swamps of south Louisiana — symbolized in this album’s title, which references the Mali town of Bamako and the Lafayette suburb of Carencro.

In keeping, much of what’s here sounds of a piece with BeauSoleil’s 24 previous releases, as Doucet and Co. blend jazz, swamp pop, country, blues into the intriguing musical gumbo that is Cajun and zydeco — reeling off a dizzying, toe-tapping array of two-steps, waltzes, jigs and bluegrass-inspired breakdowns. Not for nothing was BeauSoleil the first Cajun band to claim a Grammy — in recognition of 1998′s L’amour Ou La Folie, in the traditional folk album category.

In fact, they are so consistent, so authentic, so stunningly brilliant that it’s easy to take BeauSoleil for granted.

Until they throw you a curve ball. And From Bamako to Carencro, due from the Nashville roots label Compass Records on February 26, 2013, certainly boasts a few.

There’s the rollicking version, led by Lester Flatt-loving David Doucet’s fleet guitar, of John Coltrane’s “Bessie’s Blues.” And a stamping take on “You Got To Move,” the Fred McDowell standard memorably included on the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers album. Oh, and a La La-style redo of “I’ll Go Crazy,” perhaps best remembered from James Brown’s volcanic rendition on the 1962 release Live at the Apollo.

Those moments inbue From Bamako to Carencro with this crackling sense of discovery, granting a fresh perspective on everything that surrounds them. They’re also the latest testament to BeauSoleil’s willingness to see beyond genre specifics.

Rather than settling for being keepers of the Creole flame, they once again picked up that torch and simply ran like hell. Long may they run.

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.

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