Treat yourself to a COVID secure Louisiana Saturday night in your own home with ‘Corey Ledet’s Zydeco’.
Zydeco is a black indigenous music from Louisiana, and while it has a fascinating history and is one of americana’s tributaries, all the musicological aspects take second place to the fact it is one of the best Saturday night music genres in the world, and given lockdown, any good-time music is to be welcomed. Corey Ledet has deep musical family roots that cover not only zydeco, but also early ragtime and jazz, with his great grandfather playing bass with jazz legend Bunk Johnson and his grandfather developing zydeco beats with zydeco founder Clifton Chenier before going on to play with Rockin Dopsie. In case anyone gets the wrong impression, Corey Ledet, a Grammy Nominee in 2012 for Best Regional Music Album, is not some musician recently discovered by some folklorist, but an active 40-year-old working musician who brings modern influences to a traditional sound. ‘Corey Ledet Zydeco’ is released on Nouveau Electric Records, which are based in Louisiana and have a mission to bring traditional and experimental Louisiana music to a wider audience. The album is full of music that looks back to zydeco’s roots and also to the future as well as celebrating the local culture of South Louisiana.
Opening track ‘This Is All I Want’ immediately takes us to a Saturday night dance in Louisiana and we know we are in for a good time. ‘Buchanan Ledet Special’ quickly gets to the heart of the whole album as it is a shout-out to Corey Ledet’s Grandfather and his role in developing the zydeco sound with his unique drum beats. This is covered in its spoken word introduction and includes Corey Ledet’s rapid-fire accordion bursts. When Corey Ledet was planning the album he decided to reference his family’s South Louisiana culture and one way of doing this was to sing in the Kouri-Vini French dialect. ‘Mon Marche’ is a zydeco powerhouse take on Fats Domino’s ‘I’m Walking’. ‘Pel Mo (Call Me)’ has more than a hint of the blues with harmonica and Hammond B3 organ accompaniment. Corey Ledet writes 8 of the 10 tracks and it is his cover of Big Joe William’s ‘Flip Flop and Fly’ that provides the best evidence of his standing as a true virtuoso of the accordion and someone who is more than capable of continuing Clifton Chenier’s tradition. There is also support from some rockabilly guitar on this cover. Next, we get a touch of gospel with Corey Ledet putting extra effort into his vocals on ‘I’m Gonna Be Alright’ before we get to a special part of the album.
The album wasn’t quite finished when COVID hit in 2020 and Corey Ledet was determined to finish the recording with the last three tracks being virtually solo accordion pieces. Before anyone raises an eyebrow, the spoken introduction explains that the engineer on the final session was socially distanced in the studio. ‘Nina’s Hot Step’ is a true solo virtuoso performance, the waltz ‘Mo Mank (I Miss) is a tribute to Corey Ledet’s grandmother and aunt and the album closes in fine style with ‘Aret To Trin (Stop Your Noise).
If you have ever wondered what zydeco is all about ‘Corey Ledet Zydeco’ is an ideal introduction to the music, if you are already a fan then it is a fine addition to the tradition and if you are simply suffering from COVID blues it is an ideal way to bring some Saturday night joy into your home. As well as the sheer exuberance of the music it is also a fascinating insight into the history of zydeco and the involvement of one particular family with the true flavours of South Louisiana culture well to the fore.