REVIEW: Lil’ Pookie – Just Want To Be Me

Those readers who have been around since the earlier days of this blog (which is now over 4 years old) will recall that I used to regularly review new albums. Over the first 3+ years I generated well over 200 reviews, and had reached the point where I was pretty much flooded with review requests and sample albums.

I was ready to cry ‘uncle’ and accordingly began to advise all my media contacts that I was winding it down. Eventually the flood dried up and I began to devote my time to my first love — musical nostalgia. Of course, the occasional unsolicited sample album would still show up in my mailbox, but I mostly ignored them. However, I was intrigued by one that arrived recently, so I’m unlimbering my old reviewing muscles — but probably just this once.

I’ve never made a secret of my fondness for the music of South Louisiana, especially the kind that falls under the heading of Cajun/Zydeco. Enter Jimmy ‘Lil’ Pookie’ Seraile, whose new album, Just Want To Be Me, is now available on the Maison de Soul label.

Although he’s still relatively young, Pookie is a long-time veteran of the region’s music, and was born into a musical family that included his grandfather, Delton Broussard, a member of the pioneer zydeco group, the Lawtell Playboys. Pookie himself was winning squeeze-box contests before he even reached his teens, and followed a natural progression into a musical career. That career has taken a detour or two into other musical avenues, but he’s currently a popular draw at live shows and has a lot of fans of his brand of zydeco.

Those fans might like his interesting blend of zydeco and be ready to embrace this album, but it’s a mixed verdict for me. I enjoyed the few tracks that seemed a little closer to traditional zydeco sounds, like “She Lock Me Down,” and the instrumental, “Pookie’s Waltz,” but most of the songs here (all written by Pookie) were a little too unconventional for me. A good example is “You Better Treat Her Right,” which is a sort of fusion of a straight vocal with a zydeco accompaniment, and it didn’t really work for me.

Still, fans of the music of South Louisiana might find a lot to like here, and certainly might want to give it a listen. (You can hear samples of all cuts by clicking on the album.)

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