The Tribute Sessions
First Appeared at The Music Box, November 2001, Volume 8, #11
Written by John Metzger
Terrance Simien is a musician with a mission, if there ever was one. Like Ry Cooder has done with Cuban music, Simien ever so gently has nudged the world towards embracing the Zydeco style. His method is simple: Take the genre and wrap it in the soothing soul of Sam Cooke, the folksy Americana of The Band, and the reggae grooves of Bob Marley. Time and again, his albums have displayed these characteristics, while still remaining wholly Zydeco at their heart and soul.
Taken in this vein, Simien's latest disc makes perfect sense. Titled The Tribute Sessions, the album features thirteen songs written by other artists. Each is lovingly performed by Simien as he shines a spotlight on his many diverse influences. One can feel the ebb and flow of the mighty Mississippi and the hot, moist Louisiana air on Canray Fontenot's Les Barres De La Prison, and Clifton Chenier's I'm Coming Home soars with all the simplistic beauty of a '50s ballad.
In addition, Simien draws from more contemporary influences, yielding a stirring rendition of Bob Marley's Waiting in Vain and turning in a cover of Rome Wasn't Built in a Day that would make Sam Cooke — an artist Simien emulates with utter perfection — quite proud. By broadening his horizons beyond pure Zydeco, Simien demonstrates the way in which Zydeco and rock have interacted over the years, and indeed, this is exactly the correlation that Simien is trying to draw.
Further driving this point home, Simien saw fit to add narration to the album, allowing his story to come to life in the warm glow of songs and words. View it as a course in who Terrance Simien is. Or view it as a course in Zydeco music. Either way, The Tribute Sessions is a remarkable love letter to the world of music. ½
The Tribute Sessions is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box