On Cajun Accordion Kings (and the Queen), producers Joel Savoy and Steve Riley turn back the clock and give the accordion—and the accordion alone—a gracious spotlight.
It is the antithesis of dressed up for Saturday night Cajun music, with its full band sound. Kings, instead, is stripped down to the core, just accordion in a variety of playing and song styles. Though majority traditional songs and mostly instrumental, there’s a nice blend of waltzes and two-steps with a few surprises along the way. For one, Robert Jardell takes on the quintessential Cajun string song “Jolie Blonde.”
The title isn’t hyperbole as the compilation features many crown-worthy modern squeezers and seasoned veterans such as Jo-el Sonnier, Marc Savoy, Riley himself, Wayne Toups, Bruce Daigrepont, Paul Daigle, Ray Abshire and the queen Sheryl Cormier.
In the liner notes, Riley writes that he hears ghosts on the record—ghosts of the music and the culture’s past. There’s truth to that. Yet you can also hear building blocks clacking in place for the music’s future and a potential return to accordion-dominated Cajun sounds.