The roots of this Yvette Landry–Roddie Romero collaboration began when they performed Dale & Grace’s number one hit “I’m Leaving It Up to You” at a gig, then waxed a dreamy rendition of it for Landry’s 2014 release Me & T-Coe’s Country. Expand the concept further and you get the Jukes, a seasoned sextet that includes Romero’s Hub City All-Stars’ pianist/organist Eric Adcock and saxophonist Derek Huston.
While the focus is swamp pop and early Gulf Coast rock ’n’ roll, Louisiana Lovin’ is simultaneously a classic and contemporary affair recalling the golden era of Louisiana’s dancehalls and juke joints. Nearly all the songs are indigenous or longtime emigrants to the South Louisiana repertoire, such as Jack Greene’s “I Need Somebody Bad,” popularized by Warren Storm. Four glorious selections hail from favorite son Bobby Charles.
Landry and Romero make for electrifying duet partners, sometimes blending as a single entity (“My Last Date With You”), other times playfully interacting, as on “Yea Yea Baby,” which is practically a scene from a musical.
Of the three tunes Landry sings solo, the rumba-rockin’ “Daddy Daddy” is by far her best performance as she couldn’t have channeled the passion and sensuality of her love-smitten protagonist any better.
Similarly, Romero delivers knockout interpretations of Charles’ “Homesick Blues” and David Egan’s “Forbidden Love.”
Yet a large part of the Jukes’ sound comes from Adcock and his endless supply of dazzling boogies, meandering blues, trills and pulsating triplets. While most will find Louisiana Lovin’ accessible, entertaining and enduring, it’s also a reminder of South Louisiana’s fertile musical legacy that continues to flourish with seeds like this.