Turning Cajun and zydeco musicians loose on rock music was a novel idea for the first En Francais. The novelty has worn off, but the thrill these melded melodies produces is no less welcome on En Francais 2.
Featuring a baker’s dozen tracks that range in interpretation from grungy and guttural to quaintly traditional, En Francais 2 is full of surprises. Some of the groups performing on the record — The Babineaux Sisters, Isle Deniére, The Brasseurs — are less well known in Lafayette clubs but bring, like Michael Doucet, Al Berard, Geno Delafose and Terrance Simien, an authenticity, intensity and high level of musicianship to the production.
Produced by Karlos Knott, Louis Michot and Todd Mouton, En Francais 2’s sound is rich and earth-toned. There is so much serendipity, so much combustible happenstance magic in these tracks, the conceit — taking popular rock and, in a few cases, R’n’B songs and recording them Cajun- and zydeco-style — evaporates in the sheer joy of the experience. And then there’s track 8, Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” performed by the Soul Express Brass Band featuring zydeco accordionist Corey Ledet. It’s a brazen departure from form on the record and emphatic proof that melding zydeco accordion with New Orleans funky brass isn’t just a righteous experiment, it’s plain righteous.
En Francais 2 was worth the wait. Here’s to hoping there will be more. — Walter Pierce