Marc Broussard's new album Carencro starts off enjoyably enough with "Home," a New Orleans stomp built on gritty vocals and a subtle but firm blanket of slide guitar. There's something disingenuous about the edges, though, something just a little too soft to be real. By the second track all semblance of personality is lost and Broussard quickly shows his true colors. Trite clichés pock both the lyrics and accompanying music leaving an adult contemporary mess that your own mother would likely pass up while skimming the FM dial. Track two, "Rocksteady" seems ready-made for the Bar Mitzvah/wedding dance floor circuit with the easily repeatable, horribly unexciting refrain of "When I get there/You better be ready to rock steady." Three songs in, you'll find "The Beauty of Who You Are" (I wish I was making that title up, but I ain't) providing enough cheese to get Little Italy through the Feast of San Genarro. At it's best, Carencro is a poor-man's Stevie Wonder rip-off with the near-groovability of "Where You Are" but at worst it's... well, you get the idea.

Oh, and going back to the liner notes, it becomes clear why that opening track sits in such stark, listenable contrast to the rest of the album. The peerless Sonny Landreth is the cat providing that nasty slide in the background. Too bad more of his skill and presence didn't rub off on the rest of Carencro. That track alone is almost worth keeping. Almost.

Aaron Stein
JamBase | New York
Go See Live Music!

Editor's Note: As the old saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." And thus we have found two starkly different views of Marc Broussard's album Carencro. In an effort to provide you with both sides of the spectrum we have elected to publish both. In fact, we'd like to know what YOU think. If you have an opinion on this album, let us know, drop a line to the The Editor.

Marc Broussard's music draws from many different bags. You can hear the influence of soul men like Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, singer-songwriters like James Taylor and Neil Diamond and even the more pop minded jambands of yesteryear like Freddy Jones Band. On Carencro, Broussard effectively combines these sounds to create a rich and diverse spread of soul/pop tunes. It's often soft, even a little cheesy at times, but Broussard's overwhelming soul and ability to write a hook that would make Kareem Abdul Jabbar proud are enough to make this album a success.

On the opener "Home," Broussard pens a gritty southern song and applies slide guitar guru Sonny Landreth with impressive results. Quickly changing gears, "Come Around" is a tip of the hat to Stevie Wonder with a deep groove that keeps you moving in your seat. On "Lonely Night in Georgia" Broussard's sound is reminiscent of those Aretha Franklin Muscle Shoals recording, and "Saturday" is a classic 70s light-funk number, think Earth, Wind & Fire meets Herbie Hancock Secrets.

A propensity towards cliché and cheesy lyrics is Broussard's most notable weakness. As a beer drinking, football watching, "Friends" and/or "Will & Grace" hating guy, there are definitely a couple parts that make me cringe (note "Rock Steady" and "Where You Are"). But I am willing to overlook those moments due to the power of rest of the album.

Upon fully digesting Carencro it has risen to the top and is one of my favorite albums of the year. If you're a fan of well crafted soul songs with big hooks, this album could become your next musical addiction. With Broussard's affectionate, touching vocal work he clearly has a bright FM radio future ahead of him; and perhaps as he gains more life experience (he is only 22) the clichés will disappear and we'll be left with a budding soul star.

Geoff Harrison
JamBase | Chicago
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 10/21/04]

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