Leon Chavis and the Zydeco Flames, This All I Know (Independent)

On his fifth CD, Leon Chavis achieves an artistic milestone with 11 originals reflecting deeper personal feelings and more openly honest songwriting. Several originals unveil his new lease on life: falling in love, marriage and a happier state of being (“Share My Life,” “Til the Morning”).


The opening two tracks are particularly creative. “Intro” features Chavis’ great-uncle Boozoo testifying about lack of money and respect over a supporting hip-hop foundation. Just after Boozoo says “I quit because I wasn’t paid for what I was doing,” Chavis busts into the money-grabbing hustling title track featuring Houston rapper Baldenna Tha King, a well-documented trail ride aficionado. It’s a great juxtaposition of tracks representing generationally removed circumstances and a reminder of how far zydeco has evolved.

Initially recorded by Chavis and later mix-mastered by Chris Ardoin, every track is densely layered with background vocals and effects, giving the listener tons to absorb. Keyboards play a huge role. On “Share My Life,” the keyboard’s chirping and chiming effects add to the lush, romantic ambience. “Me and My Drank” relies more on the speaking, sometimes altered voices resembling those circulating in the protagonist’s head as he slips into intoxication. The groove-bouncy “You Wouldn’t Understand” addresses how an entire culture and community exists behind a seemingly simple event like a trail ride.

Of the undocumented covers, Chavis spins a doo-wop intro on Frankie Lymon’s “Goody Goody” and sprints Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” at a greyhound pace. While the latter advises denial when it comes to infidelity, there’s no denying that this is Chavis’ best effort to date.