Review: Feufollet Cow Island Hop (Valcour Records)

You’ve got to tread carefully when tampering with as precise a formula as Cajun music; if you go too far into changing things, it feels wrong—too little and you just sound sub-par. On the near-punk stomp of the opener “Prends Courage,” and the coy speakeasy cabaret of “Femme L’a Dit,” Feufollet exhibits a willingness to push the boundaries of what a crack Cajun band can do. But one must master one’s two-step and waltzes before one can pull them apart, and “Eunice Waltz” and “Jolie Fille” stand as fine examples of Feufollet’s traditionalist expertise. Perhaps the bravest and most innovative moment comes in the sweeping arrangement of “Sur Le Bord De l’Eau” with the accordions and fiddles reduced to a haunting ripple across which forlorn French lyrics skip. Cow Island Hop is a rare Cajun album that has all the trappings of the real deal and sticks out from the pack. feufollet.net

Essential tracks: “Prends Courage,” “Sur Le Bord De l’Eau,” “Eunice Waltz”

Recommended if you like: Lost Bayou Ramblers, The Bluerunners when they would go into Cajun mode, the idea of Cajun music more than the reality