On Alligator Purse BeauSoleil s fearless captain Michael Doucet leads the next installment of his musical journey along the lifeline of Cajun music, this time with an all star crew including Natalie Merchant ('Little Darlin'), Garth Hudson ('I've Spent All My Money Loving You'), John Sebastian, Roswell Rudd, Bill Keith and others. His notable friends help Doucet bring the rich folk traditions of south Louisiana into the 21st century through the genius interplay of a new take on Cajun favorites ('Marie') and the Cajunization of modern folk classics. A French language reworking of Bob Dylan s cover of Muddy Waters classic Rollin & Tumblin ('Rouler et Tourner') and J.J. Cale's 'The Problem' stand alongside Cajun and Creole history lessons like 'Reel Cajun (451 St. Joseph St.),' 'Les Oignons' and 'Théogéne Creole,' originally sung for John and Alan Lomax s historic 1934 field recordings.
Alligator Purse is the funkiest history lesson ever created, a sweaty sweep through the lore of one of the most vital veins of America s musical heritage and a stark reminder that musical history is best served by a dance floor, not a museum.
There s no dearth of two-step and zydeco rhythm on Alligator Purse (Yep Roc), an upbeat new release by BeauSoleil, the pacesetting Cajun-revivalist band. The album, overseen by the television producer Michael Pillot, features songs by Bob Dylan, J. J. Cale and Julie Miller, as well as originals and traditional Louisiana fare. The mix isn't out of character for Michael Doucet, the band s sprightly fiddler and lead vocalist: he may be an old soul, but he's also a muddler. He and his partners have such a clear identity by now Mr. Doucet started BeauSoleil in 1975 that the material bends toward them rather than the other way around. No wonder the album s assorted guests, including Natalie Merchant (vocals), John Sebastian (harmonica) and Roswell Rudd (trombone), seem comfortable but mindful. They know they re only passing through. -Nate Chinen --The New York Times
For more than 30 years, BeauSoleil's members have borne the Cajun music standard, but anybody expecting them simply to keep the traditions dusted has missed the point. Alligator Purse is sequenced like a dance party. It s bookended by tunes associated with early greats Dennis McGee and Amedee Ardoin, but in between, anything's fair game. Here, Cajun music isn't so much the final result as the start of a conversation with anybody who ll be engaged. -Brian Mansfield --USA Today