Album Reviews

Honey Island Swamp Band – Cane Sugar (Louisiana Red Hot)

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honey Island Swamp Band Cane SugarThey’re irresistible by their name alone, which refers to a wild river swamp in southeast Louisiana. However, it’s the songs on Cane Sugar, the fourth album by the New Orleans-based band, that will immediately captivate listeners.

Principal guitarists and singer/songwriters Aaron Wilkinson and Chris Mulé have obviously absorbed and adopted the myriad of hot sauce sounds surrounding them, like the late Lowell George’s unique perspective on those Bayou sounds and the classic country that he brought to his early Little Feat masterpieces. That type of heat radiates straight off the slippery, boisterous “Change My Ways,” the opening song that has trumpets, slide guitar and backing vocals sticking out with conviction. A jaunty melody belies the tough matter explored in “Black and Blue” (which, in a just world, would be a Number One smash). The sleazy, gruff and funky “One Shot,” featuring the harmonies of a mandolin and organ, works amazingly well. “Cane Sugar” shimmers as if it’s a majestic sea of gold. The harmony-rich “Miss What I Got” and “Johnny Come Home,” a springy collaboration with New Orleans blues minor legend John Mooney, seals the incredible deal here.

– Tom Clarke

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