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Swamp Pop Romp
Yvette Landry sings songs of love
The adage that people remain loyal to the music of their youth well suits Yvette Landry. Her fourth CD, Louisiana Lovin’ celebrates the dancehall music from her formative years in Breaux Bridge. Landry had a teaching career when she began playing music. Her 2010 debut, Should Have Known, won Offbeat’s “Best Country/Folk Album.”
Ranging across the terrain of Cajun and country-western music, she drew a legion of fans. But swamp pop, the Cajun variation on rhythm-and-blues she heard as a teenager in dance halls near Breaux Bridge, was a long-burning flame.
Deacon John and the Ivories caught the R&B train in the 1960s and never got off. Acadiana sensations in that vein, who kept playing as another generation came along, include Warren Storm, G.G. Shinn, Cookie and the Cup Cakes. Shinn’s version of the heart-melter, “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,” touched Landry. “Shinn played what you heard when you pressed the jukebox. I heard him at Pat’s Showboat Club in Henderson. I loved to dance.”
The first R&B song Landry recorded, “I’m Leaving It Up To You,” was a gem popularized in 1963 by Dale and Grace. She laid tracks with Roddie Romero, the multi-instrumentalist and vocalist leader of the Hub City All-Stars. A video cameraman roamed at La Louisianne studio in Lafayette, the same space where Dale and Grace cut their chart-buster. Landry: “Almost 50 years later, we used the same equipment they had, recorded the same way, around one mic. Nothing digital. Roddie got Eric Adcock, his keyboard player. I had my drummer, Trevor Landry, my son; and Josef Butts [from the Yvette Landry Band] on bass. Recording it was magical.”
Sixty-five-thousand YouTube spectators bestirred Landry to include it on her last c.d., “Me & T-Coe’s Country.”
Landry made concert tours in summer and school breaks; she performed in Russia as a Library of Congress cultural ambassador. Last year, Landry toured Germany with Romero and fiddle player Beau Thomas. During long hours in a van, her thoughts reeled back to the dance halls, and “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,” a 1960’s hit in the Crescent City for Danny White and the Cavaliers.
Landry wanted to do a CD with Romero. Both had bands, coordinating their schedules took time. In January they went into Dockside Studio in small town Maurice. Richard Comeaux on steel pedal, and Beau Thomas, a mainstay from her band, sat in on a few cuts.
Landry’s voice, by turns blues-moaning and sultry-seductive, fits the range of songs like fingers to a glove. In the duet, “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,” Romero sings the jilted lover: “Tomorrow, was our wedding day, but with my own eyes, I saw you kissing my best friend.” Landry the fianceé, sings in guilt: “How could I break your heart, break our plans, with our wedding day so close?” The heart is a merciless organ.
Louisiana Lovin’ pays homage to the late Bobby Charles of Abbeville with his compositions, “Homesick Blues,” “Grow Too Old,” and “Take it Easy Greasy.”
But the sizzling stand-out is “Daddy Daddy” with Landry in a thrall over the big boy in bed at 4 a.m.
“I was thinking about the songs I liked growing up when [music writer] Ben Sandmel sent me a song, ‘Daddy Daddy’ that Ruth Brown had sung. He said I think you’ll rock this tune.”