It's a close encounter with some of the best Zydeco between here and the moon, Ernest James Zydeco's new album, Roots Rocket Radio. The last album, Jubilee, is probably still warmly spinning in your disc changer. But hey! The new one is already here, and it's a doozie—out of this world fun.
Seems like every time Ernest James Zydeco has a show, it turns into a crayfish boil or a Mardi Gras festival, so it only makes sense that the group would come up with a kickin' album to pump everyone up into a festival atmosphere. The first song, “Zydeco Festival,” is a great way to start off the new album, with a roots rockin' accordion melody that hooks you in and raises your spirits for the party to come.
The next track is “Doorstep,” the kind of downhearted blues that keeps you comfortably hooked in to a rainy fall day. This song sings of love as a possibility, as a frightened hope. This one is almost Reggae, with a mournfully melodic bass line and a syncopated rhythm from the band.
The song “Honey Zydeco” is classic Zydeco and it's classic Ernest James. The liner notes verify that, as diggable as these tunes are, every single one is an original. Often, the “too good to be true” feel of a blues genre recording is a dead giveaway that the song writing is not the band's own, but Ernest James crafted each of these works with the input of the Ernest James Zydeco band and the lyrical influences of the group's spirited washboard scraper, Barry Barnes.
Track five of the album gives you the backstory to this CD, which turns out to be a sort of concept album. A full page Roots Rocket Radio poster insert reveals the backdrop:
Roots Rocket Radio is party down music with the backwoods flavor of Lousiana style blues and hip shaking zydeco.
On this release, the skits reveal that a chance encounter in the parking lot draws a group of curious U.F.O.s into a hopping juke joint. Inside, the aliens join Ernest James and his band mates for a wild time. You won't believe your ears!
The music on Roots Rocket Radio takes you to a party, a “Zydeco Festival” where everyone eats greasy food and gets down, from “grandma showing the girls how to shake it” to “The Fat Man” stuck in his chair.
With bluesy accordion leads, driving washboard and drum rhythms, and tasty guitar and bass runs, Roots Rocket Radio explores where roots zydeco goes in the 21st Century.
More of what you love about roots zydeco is driven right into the 21st century with “You're So Sweet,” and the down homey feel of “Mama's in the Kitchen.” Has anyone ever really been to Louisiana if they haven't tasted mama's cookin'? Speaking of whom, the most jumpin' groove on this album is track eleven, “Hey Mama,” a high energy romp fit for a festival climax. And to really find out where zydeco is headed in the 21st Century, you have to hear “Doorstep Dub,” a remix of an earlier track on the album. The previous EJZ album features a forward thinking dub of one of their best songs as well. And both albums are definitely worth checking out.
These songs are another beautiful example of honest roots music that never struggles to be anything it is not, music that makes you comfortable in your own skin. If you're ready for a little diversity in your blues diet, you're not sure where to go, Ernest James Zydeco has a little bit of everything good in the pot.