As great a concert performer as Lafayette slide guitar ruler and singer Sonny Landreth is, Recorded Live in Lafayette is only his second in-concert CD. A double-CD release, it features Landreth and his band, bassist Dave Ranson and drummer Brian Brignac, plus guests Sam Broussard, guitar, and Steve Conn, keyboards. The group recorded the album in January at the Acadiana Center for the Arts.
Grammy-winner Tony Daigle co-produced the project, recording it on a 48-channel API 1608 console recently used by U2. The all-acoustic disc one, featuring Brignac playing the Peruvian cajón and Ranson’s ukulele bass, sounds especially warm and resonant. Disc one opens with “Blues Attack,” the title track for Landreth’s 1981 album debut. “Blues Attack” sets the template for the selections with expansive solos from Landreth, Broussard and Conn. Landreth’s vocals and individual instruments are wonderfully clear.
Even in their acoustic settings, songs that should rock, such as the zydeco road song “The U.S.S. Zydecoldsmobile,” truly do rock. But disc one leans to the softer, bluesy side of Landreth’s repertoire. He revisits the classic “Key to the Highway” like it’s an old friend. “A World Away,” despite its mournful tone, gets a passionate performance. The almost country “Creole Angel,” one of the album’s best tracks, is another acoustic rocker.
Landreth and the band switch to electric instruments for disc two, opening with a powerful zydeco-Cajun rocker, “Back to Bayou Teche.” The performance stars Landreth’s alternately singing, screaming, percussive guitar work. He transcends the instrument.
A trio of instrumentals on disc two carries the musicians far from their Louisiana roots. They make an intragalactic journey in “The Milky Way Home.” The dreamy grandeur of “Brave New Girl” suggests Pink Floyd. The racing “Überesso” features the album’s most technically impressive musicianship, but the performance often sounds close to flying off the rails.
Landreth comes home to Louisiana with the swamp-pop tune “Soul Salvation.” Conn sings lead vocals for the final track, a hot zydeco throw-down, “The One and Only Truth.” In the end, Landreth’s second in-concert album is right on time.