REVIEW: Michael Doucet’s “Lâcher Prise” is Remedy For What Ails the Soul


My late Southern-belle Aunt Jewel was from Louisiana. Stationed with the Air Force in her town during WWII my Uncle met her because they both liked to dance. The rest of our N.J. family was all Italian-American. But, this was the same aunt that introduced this lasagna rock & roll boy to zydeco & Cajun music. She also said, “if you want to get a lot of girlfriends – learn to dance.” She was right. She added: “whenever you’re feelin’ poorly sonny, this music will be medicine to your soul.”

I didn’t understand. I understand now.

So, with this new solo Compass Records CD (releases Feb. 14) — Lâcher Prise (French for “let go,” & is also a Buddhist term) from Beausoleil’s Cajun legend Michael Doucet (vocals, fiddles & mandolin).

I found a remedy for what ails the heart, no, that’s wrong – the soul. Chocolate or whiskey is the remedy for the heart. I forget.

From the opener “Water, Water,” – the melody surfs on a high blue wave of notes & Michael takes us into the pipeline of Southwestern Louisiana music. To put it succinctly – this rocks. The musicians – all proficient & Michael’ s upbeat vocals, Chad Huval’s accordion puts a toe to tapping, a hip to swinging & an ass to bopping. Don’t be embarrassed this is non-stop body music.

Michael’s solo band stirs a jambalaya of sound through swamp soul, Louisiana tradition & infectious melodies. In the mix are Sarah Quintana (vocals, guitars), Chad Viator (guitars), Chris French (acoustic & electric bass) & Jim Kolacek (drums). Just when you think it’s safe to go back into the water “Lula, Lula Don’t You Go To Bingo,” buzzes in with a tight fiddle, snappy drums & Chad’s accordion that cuts through with what really colors the tune – NRBQ’s Jim Hoke’s baritone/tenor sax — slathered on like frosting on a cake. Damn, if this music doesn’t make me smile.

“Walking on a Mardi Gras Day,” is slower with a marching band beat. A nice contrast to the other tunes with a fine deep Doucet vocal. As for diversity “Bad Woman,” has a Spanish flavor while the fiddle-driven & accordion accented “Marie Catin” alternates between French & English verses. Doesn’t matter if you don’t understand – the music penetrates the gray matter. There wouldn’t be a still foot in Appalachia or anywhere in Great Britain with this music. Even an arthritic grandma would clap her hands.

Bobby Charles’ “He’s Got All the Whiskey,” is darker like The Blasters – a real saloon show-stopper. It’s rare that a slow song can stop someone from getting up to visit the restroom during a live show, but this song would.

Some guest musicians on some tunes: Sarah Dugas (vocals), & Reese Wynans (Keyboards) & The Turtle Island Quartet strings appear on the finale instrumental “Cajun Gypsy.”

The 44-minute CD was Produced by Garry West.  Available at Amazon & Compass Records.


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