Hey, wait a minute! Didn’t Sean Ardoin just put out an album? But hot off the heels of his 2018 Grammy-nominated Kreole Rock and Soul comes Ven (meaning 20 in Creole) to celebrate Ardoin’s 20th anniversary as a solo artist. It’s not a collection of new material nor is it a greatest hits package, but previously released tunes re-imagined the way Ardoin says he originally envisioned them.
Compared to the original versions, the new incarnations feel fresher, sound sharper and boast fuller background vocals and arrangements, the latter augmented by using a keyboard that wasn’t part of zydeco back then. They’re still highly danceable and feature Ardoin’s skilled accordion playing, though it’s not the dominating force in the action-packed arrangements. Still, it makes you appreciate how innovative “Bounce,” “ZydecoKool Rollin’” and the revival-like “Pullin” were in the first place to be able to spawn these more universal versions.
As noted practically everywhere, the innovation cycle never stops. “It’s Love” concludes with an impressive a cappella outro that wasn’t in the original.
One tune never released commercially is “Gumbo Time,” only on YouTube. Remixed here, Ardoin gangs up with New Cupid and comedian Uncle Luck for a culinary discourse on how to make the perfect gumbo. With all the nonstop chatter, it’s so insanely hilarious, it makes you wonder how good their gumbo really is. If it’s half as good as this track, it must be out of this world.