By now, it can't be a secret to many of you that I'm way behind on my album reviews. I have a stack of albums at home that I'm only now beginning to work through. I say that with many apologies going to those of you who have been kind enough to send me your material. You put a lot of time and effort in to creating your art, and I have not been the best lately at properly acknowledging your work. Summertime is here, it's a new season and I'll do better, I promise.
One album that I have popped in to my CD player, is one that was recently released on Rounder Records, Swamp People, Music Inspired by the History Television Series. Mixing newer and original songs with familiar classics, this album represents a great cross-section of American music. Its inspiration comes from the bayou's and the swamp's of Cajun country, the great state of Louisiana.
Swamp People leads off with an original tune of the same name that was written specifically for the show and album, and it's a great number steeped in old swamp-rock tradition. It sets the perfect tone for the rest of the album. The following track will be familiar to many listeners, as the late great (and vastly underrated) Jerry Reed tells us the story of Amos Moses. Mr. Reed's unique style of guitar playing on this wonderful track is more than welcome and appropriate when you're paying tribute to the bayou region.
Cajun music legend Buckwheat Zydeco takes an instrumental turn on the infectious Zydeco La Louisianne. As with Jerry's Reed's contribution, you simply cannot have an album inspired by the Cajun region of the United States and not have Buckwheat Zydeco present. The same can be said for Beausoleil, as they are joined by Michael Doucet on the French tune Kolina. One track reminded me of the East Coast/Nova Scotia sound that one can get on this side of the border, and that's the wonderful Amanda Shaw contribution, French Jig. It's perhaps not surprising that this tune does remind me of Nova Scotia, as the Clare region of that province in the original home of the Acadien. A large portion of the Acadien immigrated to Louisiana forming today's Cajun region, and the rest is history.
Blues takes center stage as well with singer-songwriter Tony Joe White relating his Polk Salad Annie. And it wouldn't be a tribute to Cajun country without honoring that amazing Cajun dish, Jambalaya (On the Bayou) by the one and only Hank Williams, Sr. To round out one of the great musical journey's on an album today, The Neville Brother's kick up the funk on arguably the best track of the album, Fire on the Bayou.
The partnership of Rounder Records and History Television has led to this excellent album that has been released in time summer. This album would be a great addition to anyone's collection and will sit very well in the CD player's of many cottages, or vehicles on that summer vacation or road trip. This album has it all -- classic country, blues, a bit of funk and a generous portion of Cajun. It's a great cross-section of what Americana music is, when it comes right to it. An excellent album, hopefully there will be a Swamp Music 2 in the future.