Ever since he stepped out from behind the traps and emerged as a frontman, Curley Taylor has been a zydeco modernist. Despite his envelope-pushing strategies and progressive recordings, his fourth CD is his most groundbreaking yet. He’s part of the movement ushering in a new era of zydeco that, in essence, nudges it closer to the music of mainstream America and today’s R&B/hip-hop stable of artists. Unlike previous recordings where the accordion dominates loud and clear, on many tracks it’s not obvious that it’s present amidst the synthesized keyboards, digitized vocals and heavy backbeats.
There’s also more emphasis on melody and lyrics, resulting in songs that express sentiments of love, hope and desire rather than slogans to party by. And instead of each song being sung by a sole, single voice, Taylor supplements his vocals with lushly layered background vocals that, along with the prettier melodies, emanate mild feelings of euphoria. There’s a lot of creativity here. Two hip-hop versions of “Take It 2 the Club” find alternating rappers Taylor, Antonio Jackson and Sir Polo taking it over the top, crunk-style. The original is built upon an unfaltering zydeco beat; the remix sequel is slower with earthquaking house beats.
Though Taylor sees himself as a hipster in today’s contemporary music scene, another part of him is a soul throwback more akin to Sam Cooke and Bobby Womack. On the infectious “Baby Dontcha Go,” his vocals abound with a Pentecostal-like charisma while resounding background vocals hit the last word of every line in fervent fashion.
Yet, even with all this, he never forgets where he came from. Some tracks (“Zydeco Cutie,” “Curley’s 2 Step”) are more zydeco-oriented with Taylor’s single-row accordion prominent in the mix. It’s not even close to your father’s zydeco, but Taylor aims to be your zydeco daddy.