Music Reviews

Evangeline Made

A Tribute to Cajun Music


The excellent musician and folklorist Ann Savoy has invited a diverse all-star cast of musicians into the studio to perform versions of several Cajun favorites. The interesting aspect, first of all, is that the artists operate within the perimeters of the Cajun sound, rather than try and translate the songs to suit the artists’ regular playing fields. And although this makes for an at times absurd listening experience – who’d have imagined hearing proto-punk David Johansen singing traditional folk music in so-so French? – the album is a remarkable and admirable achievement that will hopefully open up the rich and enticing world of Cajun music to a more rock-oriented audience.

David Johansen, in fact, does an excellent, excited take on “Ma Mule,” while John Fogerty, in this new setting, sounds more energetic than he has in years. Maria McKee is in her usual splendid form, and Patty Griffin does a heartbreaking version of “Pa Janvier, Laisse Moi MÃen Aller.” Linda and Richard Thompson both contribute amazing performances, although sadly we don’t get to hear them play together. The versatile Nick Lowe does an inspired “ArrÍtte Pas La Musique,” Rodney Crowell shines on a lively “Blues de Bosco,” and Linda Ronstadt does two brilliant tracks with Ann Savoy herself. All in all, this is an inspired and knowledgeable collection of Cajun music, and a great starting-point for anyone interested in discovering the rich treasures of the South.

Vanguard Records:

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