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CD REVIEW: Drew Landry and the Dirty Cajuns – Tailgaten Relief and Hurricane Companion EP
By Chip Withrow - 03/04/2006 - 12:57 PM EST

Artist: Drew Landry and the Dirty Cajuns
Album: Tailgaten Relief and Hurricane Companion EP
CD Review: The other day, I was watching a news report about the first Mardi Gras after Hurricane Katrina. The haunting song in the background was a gospel group, maybe the The Blind Boys of Alabama, singing “House of the Rising Sun/Amazing Grace.”

Drew Landry’s “Category Five” deserves a spot alongside that song as a powerful soundtrack for post-Katrina images. With a gravelly voice and an acoustic guitar, Landry tells a story that is both poetic and direct, with this searing message: “Maybe next time all the old and sick and poor won’t have to die.”

This 7-track disc begins with the blistering “Grosbec (Game Warden Song).” I can’t figure out whether it’s a cautionary tale or unapologetic advice to do what you gotta do, but it satisfies my periodic craving for doses of good Southern rock and nasty slide guitar.

At first listen, I didn’t much care for “Tiger Fan” – it sounded too much like a novelty. But after repeated listens, I realize that the sentiment applies to anyone who – like my wife has accused me of being with Ohio State sports – bases his emotional well-being too much on how his favorite team is doing. Plus, the guitar and harmonica interplay rocks, and rhyming “Shaq O’Neal” with “Billy Canyon up and down the football field” is just plain cool.

“Dirty South” and “Land of Dead Giants,” different as they sound, seem like companion pieces, odes to a Cajun country that used to be. The former is a rousing rocker (again, strong lead guitar and blues harp) with the refrain, “Where you been goin to?” The latter, a plaintive guitar-and-fiddle number, is a vivid picture of lost wilderness.

The closing track (well, there is a bonus track, a boozy-sounding singalong that seems to be called “I Can Hear the Jukebox Play”), is well-suited to end this Louisiana-themed song cycle. On “Salt Water Tears,” Landry refers to TV preachers, looters, and the government’s favoring of foreign wars over national safety.

In the notes that accompanied this CD, Landry writes that Tailgaten Relief and Hurricane Companion is “the story of what kept me from putting out a 2005 release.” He adds that this EP might not appeal to people outside of Louisiana, but I disagree. Good songs are good no matter what, and I’m looking forward to the tales he will tell on his 3-CD set due this summer.

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