A Tribute to Cajun Music
Review by Steven Stone
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CD Stock Number: Vanguard Records 793-2
Evangeline Made A Tribute to Cajun Music features both Cajun and non-Cajun musicians covering traditional Cajun material. Funny things can happen when native English-speakers tackle songs with French lyrics. Some artists sound as if they've been singing in french all their lives, while others need a couple more lessons at
Producer Ann Savoy is certainly no stranger to Cajun music. She's the author of
Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People, and has recorded six albums of roots music on Arhoolie and Rounder labels. It was her idea to approach artists with the idea of doing an anthology of traditional Cajun material. Linda
Rhonstadt, John Fogarty, Linda Thompson, Patty Griffin, David Johansen, Richard Thompson, Maria McKee, Rodney Crowell, Nick Lowe, and The Cajun All-stars all signed on with enthusiasm. The results are more than merely entertaining.
My favorite selections on Evangeline Made A Tribute to Cajun Music are by the Cajun
Allstars. Neither my advance copy or the promotional materials mention exactly who these nameless players are, but they are really good. "Vagabond Special" leads off the album with a spirited instrumental featuring hot solos by both the fiddle and guitar. Among the female Anglo contributors Patti Griffith and Linda Thompson turn in the most convincing and authentic-sounding performances. Among the men Richard Thompson and Rodney Crowell sound like they've done their homework. The guitar work on Richard Thompson's selection "The Flames of Hell" is fiery enough to beat the devil at his own game.
Except for the Cajun Allstars, the sound on Evangeline Made A Tribute to Cajun Music is very good. For some reason the all-stars sound quiet a bit rawer than the other selections, especially the guitar which sounds like it was recorded with a mediocre under-bridge piezo pick-up rather than a studio microphone.
While Evangeline Made A Tribute to Cajun Music doesn't prove that almost anyone can sing Cajun music, it does show that even non-Cajuns, with a little practice and a good authentic band behind them, can sound remarkably close to the real thing.
Sound Quality: 85