Broussard's high octane take-off uses no formula at all. Instead he offers a blend of abilities, styles & enthusiasms uniquely adapted to himself on his debut album, Carencro. He calls himself "a white boy singing soul music." But that's deceptive because his music draws from everything he's absorbed. "I feel like I've melded a bunch of things together that people haven't focused on for a long time." In his songs can be heard influences & accents ranging from soul men like Stevie Wonder & Brian McKnight to Louisiana icons like Johnny Allan & G.G. Shin to road warriors like Dave Matthews. What the 22-year old Broussard takes from all of this is a sense of craft & above all, great depth of feeling. That's what makes him so soulful. Well, that & his husky baritone with a range similar to Wonder, or another influence, Donny Hathaway. Like them, Broussard moves up & down the scales without any sign of effort-the hard work he puts into his music isn't meant to show. When it comes to music, Broussard is like a bayou rendition of The Natural.
, named for Marc Broussard's Louisiana hometown, is at times a swamp-pop masterpiece, with leadoff track "Home" stealing the mud-crusted show. What happens in the 11 songs that follow, though, could redeem major record labels from their bullying reputations. Because instead of shoving this pop/rock/soul/R&B wunderkind in the right direction--that being the direction that center-spears his gift for channeling greats like Sam Cooke
, John Hiatt
, and Stevie Wonder
in the space of a single song--whoever was in charge let him wander, and what resulted is a collection that, while hugely promising, fails to measure up to his big, baritoney talent. The songwriting is troublesome in spots ("I know you can break these chains/and set me free," from "Save Me"), and the genre shifts, while fun ("Saturday" is a '70s-style, horn-studded affair), can be jarring. For next go-round, fans--he will earn them, and deservedly, with this disc--should keep their fingers crossed that "Home" is where his heart is. --Tammy La Gorce