Some Cajun artists will stay true to a particular era while cutting a record—but not so with Choupique. The Baton Rouge aggregation prefers to live in the moment and not under the scrutiny of any purist notions, which explains the myriad material on its third album, the second produced by Joel Savoy.
A few lighthearted, English-sung tracks (“Marie Laveau,” “Devil on the Bayou”) make the proceedings family-friendly while the country-fried ”Sittin’ at the DMV” will strike a chord with anyone who has ever languished at a DMV office.
But when the rubber meets the road, Choupique plays serious Cajun music. Louisiana Grand Fiddle Champion Bill Grass extracts the purest tone from his instrument and bows with a rich, lyrical style. The Celtic-tinged original “Erwin’s Fancy” is one such splendid showcase of his chops.
Elsewhere, Choupique boils on “Ossun Two Step” and renders Lawrence Walker’s “’Tits Yeux Noirs” with elegant grace.
Choupique also takes great, underrepresented, yet culturally essential material and does it justice, such as Bruce Daigrepont’s “Disco et Fais Do Do,” a reflection of a displaced Cajun finally appreciating his heritage. “Valse de la Vie” is a poignant account of a man dying in sorrow.
On the rollicking rendition of Hadley’s Castille “La Lianne,” accordionist Jesse Brown does a remarkable job in capturing Castille’s tongue-twisting delivery.
Though the flow leaps a bit between certain tracks, it all works as designed.