review by Art Menius
While Beausoliel and Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys have taken Cajun music into new places, Balfa Toujours has established itself as the foremost traditional Cajun ensemble. On the one hand that makes perfect sense for a group fronted by Christine Balfa, daughter of the great tradition bearer for Louisiana French music, the late Dewey Balfa of the Balfa Brothers. A snippet from his “Basile Cajun Hour” radio show kicks off “Marshall’s Club,” while the title La Pointe refers to the family homestead located at one of the earliest sites of Acadian settlement. On the other hand, we find an arch tradition trio completed on accordion by Dirk Powell, whose background is as an old-time musician, and fiddler Kevin Wimmer, who established his reputation with California bluegrass ensemble the Good Ole Persons. And on the third hand, La Pointe, Balfa Toujours third release, offers several original compositions and original lyrics by Balfa and Powell that fit seamlessly with classics learned from Dennis McGee or Octa Clark.
Unlike the majority of Louisana French recordings, La Pointe proves more for listening than for dancing with ten songs and but four instrumentals. Indeed the French-challenged would do well to read the English translations of the lyrics. Having already established their reputation as a killer dance band, Balfa Toujours has produced an song-based album – recorded at home at La Pointe – of remarkable depth and subtlety. While others expand upon the tradition, Balfa Toujours lives up to its bold name by expanding within the tradition.
Records like La Pointe that mix the old and new so effortlessly appear infrequently in any genre. It offers a bridge to the older Cajun bands for those who have discovered the music in its more rocking incarnations and a delightful affirmation for all captivated by the spirit of roots Louisiana French music. Recommended without reservation or qualification.