Picks and Pans Review: Come on Joe

updated 03/14/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/14/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

Jo-el Sonnier

The Louisiana-ization of pop culture continues apace. Paul Prudhomme. Buckwheat Zydeco and the Neville Brothers. The Paul Simon variations. The Big Easy. (Louis Armstrong, too, of course, if you want to go back far enough.) Now comes this spirited, tangy country singer from Rayne, La., who adds a healthy dash of Cajun flavoring to tunes prepared Nashville-style. Sonnier might avoid getting into any Tennessee Waltz contests with guys like George Strait or Randy Travis. Sonnier compensates for a less than mellow voice, however, with a lot of verve and color, not to mention his own accordion and harmonica playing. He is 42, so he has been waiting a while for his pirogue to come in, but that has given him time to collect an enterprising batch of songs for this breakthrough album. His hit single, the atmospheric Come On Joe by Tony Romeo, evokes misty bayou images. Randy Newman's sly Louisiana 1927 (which lampoons both Yankee condescension and Southern paranoia) seems apt. The Troy Seals-Dave Kirby tune No More One More Time covers the mainstream country territory. Most interesting, though, is Tear-Stained Letter by folk-rock guitarist Richard Thompson, rendered in a helter-skelter style that captures a tone of romantic desperation: "It was 3 in the morning when she took me apart/She wrecked the furniture, she wrecked my heart/She danced on my head like Arthur Murray/The scars ain't never gonna mend in a hurry." Sonnier has great fun with the tune—with the whole album. While they're waiting for the Saints to win the Super Bowl, Louisianians aren't lacking for exports to be proud of. (RCA)

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