High Performance, “Cajun Cool” (Swallow Records)

cajun-coolThere’s nothing more fun than sifting through someone else’s record collection, especially when there are forgotten gems, diamonds in the rough and totally new and unexpected discoveries. That’s the atmosphere Cajun superpower High Performance (HP) creates on its fourth disc overall and second studio effort. Recorded at Travis Matte’s Kingpin Studio, the trademark throttling, full-bore HP sound is still wonderfully intact with Richard Comeaux’s dancing steel, Steve Riley’s precisely played accordion, Jamie Bearb’s and Jason Bergeron’s luscious twin fiddles. Additionally, HP is also well stocked in quality vocalists with Riley and Bearb, a master at singing slow, majestic waltzes with his deep baritone voice.

Indeed, there’s a rich assortment of selections here from Aldus Roger, Jimmy C. Newman and Shirley Bergeron as well as a reminder of other great songwriters like Pierre Daigle (“Little Short Dress”) and Camey Doucet (“Merry Maker,” “Greener Grass”).

But what distinguish this outing more than any other of HP’s discography are the handful of English-sung songs, most notably the two by Johnnie Allan. “Cajun Man,” sung by Riley, addresses the toiling life of a rice farmer and features the most melodic solo of the entire disc. Riley also applies a swinging swagger to “I’m Cajun Cool” while Bergeron pumps accordion at warp drive speed.

Of the new treasures, Bearb unveils his first original, the poignant, English-sung, sans accordion dancehall number “Old Memories.” “Chez Waby,” written by Riley and professor emeritus Barry Ancelet, is about a guy en route to a bar for a beer and a game of bourré. With this as his life’s soundtrack, he can’t lose.