various artists,
Cajun Music: The Essential Collection
(Rounder, 2002)

Cajun Music: The Essential Collection is an outstanding example of American music. This CD features songs in English and French. The American roots music carries a strong, lively beat through all 19 songs.

Selections range from a two-step to a waltz. "La Jalouserie" sets feet tapping, while Geno Delafose treats us to "Valse de Oppelousas (The Opelousas Waltz)." "Dans la Louisiane" is another smooth waltz, while "Jolie Blon'," the Cajun "national anthem," also carries a slow, tuneful beat. All of these songs, no matter their French titles, sound somewhat reminiscent of country-western music.

This Rounder collection hails from the 30-album Heritage Series, which boasts excellent selections in its many sampler albums. The accompanying booklet features a long introduction about Cajun music, followed by the songlist with lyrics for each song in both French and English. Run times also appear, useful for dancers or music instructors.

The songs all have steady rhythms, making these admirable dance tunes. Some Cajun classics appear, such as the Magnolia Sisters' "La leur de la jeunesse." Others, such as BeauSoleil's "Madame Bozo," are far more recent. But, whether upbeat and lively with a melody to set feet tapping, or slow and soulful in blues ballad style, this musical collection caters to a plethora of interests.

- Rambles
written by Valerie Frankel
published 1 March 2003

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