Jo-El Sonnier wrote and recorded his first song “Tes Yeux Bleu,” now an immortal classic, as a precocious 11-year-old.
Only now 57 years later, following an illustrious career as a Nashville recording artist/sideman and several Grammy-nominated traditional Cajun albums, does Sonnier deliver his first recording of all Cajun-French originals, 14 years in the making. Hence the idea of The Legacy―adding new songs to the culture just as his idols Iry LeJeune and Lawrence Walker did in their day.
It’s a solid composite sketch of Sonnier’s sonic persona, driving wet-tuned accordion with full-chord embellishments, emotive vocals and arrangements that are sometimes country influenced. Sonnier’s sizzling studio band, which includes fiddlers Beau Thomas and Michael Doucet, co-producer/guitarist Shane Theriot and steel guitarist Laine Thibodeaux, is consistently torrid, frequently pushing tempos and rocking boulders.
Though Sonnier’s voice has deepened somewhat, he’s still able to convey heartbreaking loneliness (“J’sus Après M’Ennuyer”) and celebratory joy (“Mama’s Two Step”). The closing song, “Mais Yeaux Blue,” austerely rendered on accordion and rhythm guitar, not only showcases Sonnier’s accordion mastery but also symbolizes the auspicious journey that began over a half-century ago