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