Shortly after Corey Ledet and his band had cut a rug to their triumphant new tune, “It’s Gonna Be Alright,” the rug they rely on was yanked from beneath their feet.
Ledet, a Grammy-nominated Zydeco singer, songwriter and squeeze box ace, tracked that song and six other beauties in June 2019 at the renowned Dockside Studios in the swamps of Maurice, Louisiana. “Corey Ledet Zydeco,” the artist’s 14th album, was off to a rip-roaring start. Regrettably, the final session was quashed, the cayenne-sizzling band — guitarist/singer Julian Primeaux, bassist Lee Allen Zeno, B3 player Cecil Green, harp man Grant Dermody and drummer and washboard wiz Gerard Delafose — locked out by Covid. Undeterred, Ledet went back into the studio alone, recording the album’s final three songs without missing a dancing beat. However, Ledet’s well-intentioned between -song dialog weakens an otherwise rich, celebratory vibe of the music.
Ledet, born in Texas but with strong roots in the Louisiana bayou, rejoices in Creole culture and heritage with obvious passion. The talents and ideals instilled in him by a long lineage of family players, blaze through this set of accordion-led festivities. “This is All I Want” opens the album, the barn-burner of a tune serving as a statement of purpose. Corey Ledet wants to entertain people with Zydeco music, and revel in family, and that’s that. Ledet applauds his grandfather, the first-ever Zydeco drummer in Clifton Chenier’s band in the 1940s, with “Buchanan Ledet Special.” Mr. Delafose snaps at his kit, goading the band’s hard-charging, piquant rhythms in tribute. Zydeco music is all about feel. The insistent beat, and Ledet singing his granddad’s praises in a clear, emotion-filled tenor in the local Kouri-Vini dialect, triggers a feeling deep in the bones.
The unmistakable, irresistible brew of Zydeco music, generally comprising indigenous Cajun and Creole sounds with blues and soul, takes on additional zest in the hands of Ledet and the band. The two covers presented, Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin’” (here titled “Mon Marche”) and Big Joe Turner’s “Flip, Flop and Fly,” stand out for their intense, elated rock ‘n’ roll drive. A guitar and a B3 organ screaming along with an accordion and a washboard makes for unbridled originality, indeed. Of the solo songs comprising the finale, the two-steppin’ “Nina’s Hot Step” showcases Ledet’s prowess with the squeeze box, as he repeats a figure that stays with the listener long after the album comes to a close.
“Corey Ledet Zydeco” bounces from one end to the other like a backyard trampoline filled with happy children. The world’s overall chaos, and the hardships that all working musicians are embroiled in these days, seem eased, and perhaps eliminated for a spell, by the sheer enthusiasm for music and tradition as displayed right here.
- Corey Ledet
- ‘Corey Ledet Zydeco’
- Label: Nouveau Electric Records
- Release: Jan. 15, 2021