The Upshot: Regardless of the various influences and styles that the Louisiana group touches upon, they’ve fashioned a delightful album that will easily charm you.
BY MICHAEL BERICK
It is not often that a Grammy-nominated band can come out of nowhere but that is the case with Feufollet. The Lafayette, Louisiana-based group is familiar in Zydeco and Cajun circles as their 2010 album En Coulears earned a Grammy nom in that regional music category. Two Universes is their first album since then and it marks a shift in the band and their sound. Joining Feufollet are multi-instrumentalist Kelli Jones-Savoy, whose singing and songwriting plays a big role on this album, and Andrew Toups, whose keyboard adds a new dimension to the group’s sound.
It would be easy, and rather simple, to say that the album title signals how the band is operating in two musical worlds – Cajun and Americana. This is true to a degree, but what the band really does is create a marvelous musical gumbo filled with all sorts of American roots music. The result is a lovely set of music that ranges from high-spirited dance tunes to more mournful ballads. Some songs are in French, others in English and then there’s the rollicking roadhouse rock number “Hole In My Heart,” which has an English title but French lyrics. It might sound confusing but Feufollet makes it seem so easy.
Jones-Savoy projects a winning personality in her singing. She confidently segues from the exuberant “Cette Fois” to the heartaching “When You Said Goodbye.” There’s an “everygirl” quality to her that makes you feel like you’re listening to a long-time friend sing to you. Feufollet’s other frontperson, founding member (and also an multi-instrumentalist) Chris Stafford has a more earthy voice and at times (as on “Know What’s Next” and the French stoll “Pris Dan La Vie Farouche”) you can hear a little Doug Sahm in him (which underscores the connections between Tex-Mex and Cajun-style music). The two vocalists also come together to duet on several songs, with “Red Light” standing out as a terrific look at love woes.
The band’s secret weapon is the versatile keyboardist Troups, who enhances a number of songs with his handiwork. His organ work hints at the Band on “Tired Of Your Tears,” brings a bit of Augie Meyers to “Know What’s Next” and even slips a bit of Fleetwood Mac into “Questions San Responses.” He plays a more prominent role on “One Foot In My Door,” where his funhouse-like playing reflects the unsettled relationship sung about in this tune.
Regardless of the various influences and styles that the group touches upon, Feufollet has fashioned a delightful album that will easily charm you. It is a testament to their fine work here that you don’t need to know French to enjoy the couple tunes that are “en français.”