Sophomore slump? Not hardly with Sweet Cecilia. Sisters Laura Huval and Maegan Berard and first cousin Callie Guidry went gangbusters here, enlisting six-time Grammy award-winning producer Tony Daigle and recording these seven originals at Dockside Studio. With such guests as pianist/organist Eric Adcock, cellist Caleb Elliott and even guitarist Sonny Landreth (one track), several tunes could contend for national country/Americana airplay given their quality production. Yet it’s Sweet Cecilia’s collective, often breathtaking vocals that are really what’s on tap, sometimes with wall-pinning harmonies and other times with swirling, lush background vocals that submerge you into momentary oblivion.
The songs are rife with cerebral and emotional content. “Red Bird Flies,” the album’s centerpiece, poignantly recalls the dearly departed late Al Berard, father of Laura and Maegan and uncle to Callie, and the victims of the 2015 Lafayette theater shooting. The title song is a touching motherly ode imaginatively sung by her children about their lives together.
Two tracks bust out of the Americana/country mode in head-turning fashion. The Motown-styled “Love Is Easy” is replete with horns and a sassy swagger, while the French-sung “Les Frѐres Guidry” is practically epic. Based on a catchy, pencil-tapping rhythm, Sweet Cecilia chants the names of its ancestors, then sings about how they fought, smoked and drank. But if you’re driving while listening to this, do grab the wheel tight when the chorus hits. It’s explosive, powerful and scary with the spooky guitar tones and bombastic beats making you as if you’re passing through the eye of Armageddon.