Our New Orleans, featuring new recordings by Crescent City musicians, is not only a testament to that city's talent and durability, but also proves that crisis breeds creativity. Irma Thomas drops her familiar R&B in favor of the Joe Henry-produced "Back Water Blues," a gutbucket blues with the singer's spooky vocals undergirded by Doyle Bramhall II's slithering guitar fuzz. For "Cryin' in the Streets," Buckwheat Zydeco downshifts from party to a mournful plea enforced by the leader's accordion swirl and Ry Cooder's inspired six-string surges. Davell Crawford's gospel-tinted "Gather by the River" is a heartbreaker too, as is Dr. John's "World I Never Made," a molasses-slow shot of funk elegance. But hope shines through, with Allen Toussaint's opening "Yes We Can Can"; the second-line rhythms of the Wild Magnolias' "Brother John Is Gone/Herc-Jolly-John"; the Dirty Dozen's raucous, horn-crunching "My Feet Can't Fail Me Now"; and the string-band bustle of BeauSoleil's "L'ouragon." Our New Orleans is an alternately joyful and poignant reminder of all that's worth saving about the Big Easy.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.