T’Monde, Lights in the Harbor (Album Review)

On the third album in its eight-year existence, Cajun trio T’Monde continues to distinguish itself from its fuller band contemporaries. Vocals are its most salient attribute, especially given the angelic harmonies of Kelli Jones (fiddle) and Megan Brown Constantin (guitar). But unlike previous recordings, this time Jones and Constantin gang-tackle age-old a cappella ballads “La Belle S’en Va” and “Goodbye Ma Chére Amie” for a lasting, haunting effect that’s worth the price of admission alone.

Drew Simon (accordion) is similarly impressive on “My Wedding Ring For a Souvenir,” where he sings with the utmost sincerity and tenderness to portray the sensitive storyline.

The varied song selection shows how T’Monde sidesteps omnipresent standards in favor of those not often recorded, such as Paul Daigle’s bouncy “Chѐre Aline” and Vin Bruce’s lovely “Teala’s Waltz.” A fan of both Bob Wills and Merle Haggard, Simon sings bilingual versions of Wills’ “Time Changes Everything” and Haggard’s “I’m Looking for My Mind” that work well in a Cajun format. “The Bean” is perhaps the disc’s biggest surprise—a forgotten tune Jo-El Sonnier recorded over 40 years ago for Goldband’s Eddie Shuler in a futile attempt to ignite a rock ’n’ roll dance.

Of T’Monde’s two originals, “Manuel Bar Two-Step” was inspired by “Manuel Bar Waltz” and sounds like something heard at a house dance 70 years ago. Constantin’s dreamy, poppy “Forever Blue” is enhanced by the exquisite interplay between Simon’s accordion playing and Jones’ sublime fiddling. Once again, T’Monde has raised the bar when it was high enough already.