Considering this is Kevin Naquin’s 11th album of his 23-year career, he manages to pack plenty of artistic firsts into these dozen tracks. It’s the first time he’s recorded a contemporary country ballad, “Please Say You’ll Stay” (written by local songwriter Bryan Perrin), and the arrangement demonstrates the Ossun Playboys’ versatility in pulling off something a little more radio-friendly.
But Cajun music still remains the epicenter of Naquin’s musical DNA. Two new co-written originals with ULL Professor Emeritus Barry Ancelet serve as the disc’s centerpiece. The title track, a stirring waltz, is about a guy content with his integrity; the blasting “Belle journée” chronicles a comical day in a conked-out fishing boat. Naquin achieves another first by transforming Pee Wee Broussard’s “Everybody Waltz” into “Everybody Two Step,” an infectious track with a southern rock tinge.
However, on previous albums, Naquin didn’t rely on his signature straight up Cajun dancehall style but rendered “Lemonade Song” and “J’ai été au bal” a la Wayne Toups–inspired zydecajun. Additionally, Naquin achieves yet another first with a blended regional roots sound that also embraces zydeco, Creole, swamp popped Sam Cooke soul (“Bring It On Home”) and vintage country (“Crazy Arms”) with Don Hayes’ rollicking ivories.
As part of nurturing the next generation, Naquin’s teenage daughter Kaleigh sang capably and played guitar on the Keith Whitley/Alison Krauss popularized “When You Say Nothing At All.” Overall, it’s a different look for Naquin, but a welcome one that’s his most diversified platter to date.