T’Monde translates as “little world.” Yet, there’s nothing little about this traditional Cajun trio that consists of Pine Leaf Boys‘ Drew Simon (accordion) and Les Bassettes’ Kelli Jones (fiddle) and Megan Brown (guitar) when it comes to authenticity and musicianship. Simon plays his accordion in a tastefully ornamented style with clear, distinct tones and ringing high notes and trills, which is best experienced in an unencumbered, sans bass-and-drums setting, such as this. Brown’s string strums and Jones’ rich bowing are equally clear, as if T’Monde were playing live just a few feet away.
Having three vocalists means plenty of lead vocal variety, not to mention Jones and Brown’s harmonies, which fit in naturally. Admittedly, there’s a noticeable Belton Richard influence about Simon’s crooning style, and sometimes it’s easy to note the similarities between Simon and what Richard sounded like a half lifetime ago. Two songs (“Cankton Waltz,” “La Valse D’Ennui”) are Richard originals, while, interestingly, Kitty Wells’ “Making Believe” and Lefty Frizzell’s “She’s Gone Gone Gone” were recorded by Richard in French with alternating English verses. Other highlights include Leo Soileau-Moise Robin’s amusing “Je Veux Marier” that’s sung by the sky-high vocals of Brown. Most selections deal with heartbreak and love lost but Simon’s autobiographical “Two Step Des Yeux Bleus” is one of the few, happier love-gained episodes. With T’Monde, making believe becomes reality.