Terrence Simien and the Zydeco Experience
Across the Parish Line
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2006, Volume 13, #10
Written by John Metzger
Thereís little doubt that Terrance Simienís aspirations are grand. His 1990 debut Zydeco on the Bayou was as informed by classic rock as it was by Creole tradition, and with each passing outing, he has taken a broader approach to crafting his music. His latest endeavor Across the Parish Line continues this trend. On the collection, he extends his reach by moving seamlessly from the heartfelt swamp-pop of You Should Know Your Way to the Caribbean flavors that drench his Taj Mahal-influenced update of the traditional tune Corinna and from African undercurrents that anchor Dance Everybody to the jazzy, Steely Dan-inspired Ta Pa Gonne Avec Ca. Elsewhere, he delivers Bob Dylanís Mississippi by recasting The Band as a zydeco outfit, and he revels in the í70s-drenched, soul textures of Nobody But You.
Oddly enough, the tracks that were meant to add some star power to Across the Parish Line actually serve to bring it down. The grainy rarity You Used to Call Me (which features four-part harmonies from Paul Simon) as well as a ragged cover of The Bandís Twilight (to which Rick Danko and Garth Hudson lend assistance) do little more than demonstrate how far Simien has come in the past 16 years. Likewise, the sappiness of Willie Nelsonís Always on My Mind proves to be too difficult for him and Marcia Ball to shake. On the other hand, Simienís collaboration with Los Lobosí David Hidalgo on Cůmo Vivirť, Mi Cholita is a lively blast of blues-y Cuban fare, while his voice remains the sweetest thing this side of Sam Cooke. Nevertheless, itís Simienís interpretation of Randy Newmanís Louisiana 1927 that leaves a haunted impression that not only lingers but also draws the historical connotations of his wide-ranging influences sharply into focus. Ĺ
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box