As Sean Ardoin will proudly attest, Creole United is not a band but a movement to unite Creole artists, create new material merging the old and new and incorporate the Louisiana Creole language as much as possible. As evidenced by its sophomore effort, the movement, still spearheaded by Ardoin and West Coast accordionist Andre Thierry, is indeed in fine shape. And like last time, there’s a star-studded guest list of accordionists/vocalists (mostly bandleaders) but other than Rusty Metoyer, everyone else—“Chubby” Carrier, “Sunpie” Barnes, “Step” Rideau and Kaleb LeDay—is new.
It’s an unusual concept but this all-original affair looks more to the present and future than the past, even with Thierry’s blistering, bluesy, Clifton Chenier–recalling performance on “Cookies.” “Easy Riding” mixes Carrier playing a riff of his grandfather Warren Carrier with atypical modern rhythms. The title track, phonetically spelled in Creole, practically ventures into swamp funk territory while “Je Pas Fou” sounds like the Neville Brothers on zydeco.
But where this disc excels is in its unveiling of new sounds flavored with fresh seasonings, stuff not normally heard on a typical z-platter. “Come Back to Me” soars to its emotional zenith on an ever-shifting arrangement showcasing Jairus Daigle’s artsy, progressive violin playing. It’s also Ardoin’s best vocal performance of the disc as he imploringly pleads for a second chance. “What You Get” is almost a radio pop hit with Efron Simon’s keys and Rideau’s accordion bouncing infectiously along.
Though Ardoin and Thierry collaborated on these songs, it’s obvious that Ardoin played a huge role in their development, especially given the creative finishing touches and strength-in-numbers background vocals. He sings on all tracks but often alternating with another vocalist, giving the movement a feeling of solidarity and brotherhood.