Kyle Huval contends that if you add a few scratches to his new disc, you get an old Cajun record that’s a few generations removed. Other than today’s studio technology being vastly superior to yesteryear’s variety, he’s right. Many elements of this record are a joyful throwback. The mics are strategically placed for an antiquated dancehall ambience. There’s virtually no electric bass but choke chords played by Josephine Vidrine for a delightful rhythmic thud and a stabilizing dance beat. Joel Savoy and Mitch Schexnyder’s twin fiddles add a luscious layer with glorious harmonies and occasional screaming high notes.
And then there’s Huval, a multi-prong threat in his own right. Not only is he a crushing accordionist with an unsinkable buoyancy, he’s also an adept steel guitarist who either echoes the melody rides or strikes rhythmic pulses while others solo. Huval pays homage to the classic Cajun vocalists by singing in that classic high lonesome, somewhat restrained style.
If the aforementioned attributes sound unlike today’s fare, so will the song selection. Huval sought out rarely recorded tunes (“Fais Do Do,” “If You Don’t Love Then Leave Me Alone” and cast Ann Savoy’s “Woman with a Broken Heart” into “Boy With a Broken Heart” with a completely different melody). There’s no doubt he’s clever, as evidenced by his combining “Flammes D’Enfer” and Austin Pitre’s “Tante Adele” into a completely different story line.
Of his other two originals, “Day After Day” is soulfully stunning while “Mes Miseres” has haunting moments of despair. If this isn’t one of the best Cajun discs of 2017, I’ll gladly eat mon capuchin.