Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, Lucky Devil (Independent)

Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, Lucky Devil (Independent)
Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns have become a fixture on Frenchmen Street since their founding in 2009. The group plays a mellow brand of banjo-based parlor jazz, and tends toward the sultry love-song end of the traditional repertoire.

Lake is strongest on low-key numbers like the title track, a lovely tune in which her subtle, breathy vocals mingle tenderly with Shaye Cohn’s quivering cornet and Luke Winslow-King’s guitar. But she sings the album opener, “I’m Alone Because I Love You,” in an affected nasal warble that doesn’t quite suit her.

There are certainly some strong instrumental showings here as the record features quite a few Frenchmen regulars. Tom McDermott makes a strong guest appearance on “Gimme a Pigfoot.”

The cover is a painstaking recreation of a famous turn-of-the-century photo by E.J. Bellocq, of a prostitute in New Orleans’ Storyville District. Lake’s expression, her pose, her striped stockings, the dusty old photographs on the wall behind her—it’s all perfect. It’s also a good metaphor for the group’s approach. Lake’s music is attractive and solidly executed, but she sometimes seems more interested in the theatrical trappings of the jazz singer than in the music itself. I find myself wishing the group didn’t need to place its music in a self-consciously retro context to be convincing, but others may find it charming.

  • Swampbox

    Mr. Young I think you are definatley in the minority.

  • AJazzDancer

    Meschiya and the Little Big Horns are one of the most popular bands on Frenchmen street! Their music always draws the crowds AND the dancers. Meschiya does an excellent job of paying her dues to the history of jazz while putting her own spin on things. That's what it's all about!

  • Rigatoni

    I agree with Mr. Young. Too much showiness can over ride sincerity.

  • Jack

    Not a reviewer, just a music fan. Meschiya Lake is the FIRST one who ever made me want to hear jazz, blues, or swing type music. NONE of the other current talent or past talent of by gone times ever did that. I was a die hard country and southern rock, and gospel fan until I heard her sing… she’s won a fan to this style. You have to see her live up close in person. She’s not into theatrics as some mention here. She is a big fan of her bands own sound and when she sings– her soul sings and her every move says, “These guys are good.” And when she’s done singing, she has the most humble acceptance of her applause (which iis loud from the crowd) that I’ve ever seen any performer have. Most performers I have seen in person have an arrogant “You better clap” attitude towards their own work. Meschiya is just pleased you enjoyed her song and turns and gives her guys the applause.

  • Reahook

    I saw Meschiya and her band at the Sun Valley, ID jazz festival and have been playing her CD ever since! !It’s on my IPod and I’ve shared it. The group got rave reviews and much applause at every venue they played. We’d LOVE to see them back next year.

    Another CD soon????

  • twobarbreak

    there is no way Mr. Young has seen the band before he wrote thing…there is no “show” or “costumes” with the Little Big Horns…

    everyone knows If you want disneyland jazz you go to Fritzel’s…

    this Offbeat review is the only negative review in hundreds of magazines around the world.
    the most common praise being the modern take on old standards, while keeping it authentic.

    The Little Big Horns are one of the best things that has happened to Traditional Jazz in a Long time,
    and obviously the Offbeat awards prove Mr. Young here had some type of personal thing going on with his critiquing.

  • LindyHopper

    I can’t even begin to describe how much fun this group is to dance to. And Meschiya Lake is a lovely, authentic person who carries that into her music. Watch them live, Mr. Young, then review. 

  • LindyHopper

    I can’t even begin to describe how much fun this group is to dance to. And Meschiya Lake is a lovely, authentic person who carries that into her music. Watch them live, Mr. Young, then review.