REVIEW: The Mallett Brothers Band’s Vive L’Acadie!” is a Poutine Gumbo


Americana music is many things, but it’s not typically known as an ethnic stew. But on Vive L’Acadie, The Mallett Brothers Band, sporting influences from Northern New England, French-speaking Canada, the Cajun South, Texas and even Ireland, has cooked up a sort of poutine gumbo that’s spicy enough to melt your turntable.

The title track opens the album with some gorgeous fiddle-playing (Andrew Martell’s work throughout is a standout), and the lyrics celebrate “French Canadian girls and their French-Canadian music,” along with pretty much everything else Northern and French. “Long Black Braid” laments the girl you never knew but can’t forget – “She had a long, black braid/I never got her name.” “Gettin’ Back” sounds like Mike Ness fronting Reckless Kelly with lyrics to match: “One last chance/I ain’t never gettin’ back.” “Too Much Trouble”, continues the downbeat feel with its mournful fiddle and list of unfortunate abundances: “Too much up, too much down/Too much trouble in this town.” It’ll make you want to flee whatever place you’re in, at least until you realize the trouble really isn’t the town – it’s you. “Good As It Gets”, though, will perk up the mood as nothing but the right woman can – “I’m sure you’re good/But my baby’s better.”

The two most interesting songs are the longest, both clocking in around seven minutes. “Onowa” tells the (true) story of a 1919 train wreck in Canada that killed 23 (apparently, the cheerful folks from the Great White North are hiding a hell of a lot of pain from their southern neighbors). And the last song on Vive, “Headed Home”, is a true revelation – it starts out at a genteel enough chug until hitting a barn-burning tempo change, trading guitar and fiddle licks at an almost metal-like pace. This one is destined to be a roof-blowing show-closer.

The titular brothers, Luke and Will, share vocal and guitar chores and are joined on the album by Nick Leen (bass), Wally Lenzel (dobro, electric guitar and vocals), Chuck Gange (drums) and the aforementioned Martell (fiddle, guitar and mandolin).  Recorded at Acadia Recording in Portland, the album explores the many branches of the brothers’ Maine roots and takes listeners along for a romp of a ride.  Get your copy here.

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