Since making his debut at Carnegie Hall at age four, Chris Ardoin has accomplished a lot. As a teenager in the ’90s, he was one of the leading lights of the nouveau movement and later developed a new sound that incorporated elements of funk, R&B and gospel. Songs were composed in the verse-chorus, chorus-verse format with the B3 organ, Rhodes piano and synthesizer being a focal point in crafting melodies, instead of the accordion. Acquiring a home studio helped, as did rechristening his band from Double Clutchin’ to Nustep to complete the rebranding.
Now, on this prolific songwriter’s 15th album that spans a copious 17 originals, he states in the liner notes that it’s his duty to make sure zydeco’s roots aren’t forgotten. He skillfully mixes ’90s-sounding nouveau (“Zydeko Fever,” “Wolf Cochon”) and a squealy, first generation–style waltz with contemporary stuff like the truck envy “Big Toyz,” the risqué “My Chank-A-Chank” and the veritable stompin’ storm of “Find U Some Business.” “Old Tractor” offers clever lyrical twists. A guitar-strumming country-esque intro develops into a wholesome return-to-farm concept that blossoms into an amorous, sexy setting that’s almost a South Louisiana, hormone-flying version of a farmers’ matchmaking commercial.
The studio whiz is a one-man wrecking crew, playing six instruments (including accordion) in addition to producing, recording, mixing and mastering at his home studio. Additionally, Ardoin handles all vocals, which are occasionally stacked for a resounding, full-force effect. As the cover suggests, it’s a loaded jukebox that should never sit idle.