From Ba­mako to Caren­cro Beau­Soleil avec Michael Doucet Com­pass/Planet ★★★★✩

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews -

EVEN long-time fans of Beau­Soleil, who’d be aware of the band’s pen­chant for putting a twist on ca­jun, may be sur­prised by its 25th al­bum in 40 years. The ti­tle con­veys just a frac­tion of the al­bum’s di­verse con­tent. It al­ludes to the mi­gra­tory link be­tween Mali and Louisiana, and the West African in­flu­ence im­plicit in the band’s zy­de­costyled two-chord trick Le Jig Creole, the breezy Caribbean waltz in­stru­men­tal La Douceur and the sub­lime Ba­mako. On those tracks, and es­pe­cially on the plain­tive Louisianan French Creole song Les

Bar­res de la Prison that hon­ours its cre­ator, Can­ray Fon­tenot, Michael Doucet’s soar­ing fid­dle lines are spell­bind­ing. In more clas­sic driv­ing Ca­jun mode on Guil­beau Pel­i­can & Napoleon’s Reel, he of­fers a masterclass in bow­ing tech­nique. On the self­com­posed Caren­cro, the band­leader em­bel­lishes the blue­grass feel with tremolo man­dolin. David Doucet’s ukulele lends a Hawai­ian air to the 1930s ditty Chan­son de Cin­quante Sous. Else­where, the gui­tarist’s im­pec­ca­ble acous­tic so­los fit the req­ui­site slants to a T. The Doucet broth­ers and their band­mates de­rive pal­pa­ble plea­sure in step­ping out­side the bayou to put their trade­mark

lais­sez les bons temps rouler stamp on songs from other gen­res and eras. James Brown’s I’ll Go

Crazy works un­ex­pect­edly well with zy­deco ac­cent and lyrics part-de­liv­ered in French. Michael Doucet’s fid­dle is bluesy in a march­ing take of the gospel stan­dard You Got To Move.

Tony Hil­lier

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