Nothing gets my nine-year-old son giggling in the car quite so much as me attempting to sing along with the Red Stick Ramblers. And it isn’t because I am an atrocious singer; it’s because I’m doing a less than bang-up job singing in Cajun French.
At the center of the Red Stick Ramblers’ sound are the vocals of Linzay Young and the guitar of Chas Justus. Young’s voice has the uncanny ability to change from tune to tune; he can be a weary crooner (“Doggone My Time”), mischievous and unabashed Lothario (“My Suitcase Is Always Packed”), lamenting lover (“Bloodshot Eyes”), or late night honky tonker (“Drinkin’ To You”). Justus, who plays with the spirit of an early 1950s jook joint/dance hall ax man, consistently delivers the smooth, retro tones throughout My Suitcase Is Always Packed that give the Ramblers their bygone sound.
Then there are the Ramblers’ tongue tying Cajun tunes. "Je T’aime Pas Mieux," "Nonc’ Yorick," "La Valse de Meche," and "Old Fashioned Two-Step" cover, respectively, bitter love, bootleggin’ and the law, romantic struggles, and love unrequited. While songs that explore these themes have long emerged in American music, these Cajun French offerings sound so much cooler than their English contemporaries.
With each listen of My Suitcase Is Always Packed, I can only hope that my sing-along Cajun improves. Until then, my son will just keep giggling.
My Suitcase Is Always Packed is out Tuesday, May 19, on Sugar Hill Records.