April 19, 2012

Moussu T E Lei Jovents | Empeche-Nous!

ARTIST:  Moussu T E Lei Jovents
TITLE:  Empeche-Nous!
LABEL:  Le Chant Du Monde
After four top-shelf studio albums, French roots-rock band Moussu T E Lei Jovents recaps its first seven years on this superb live recording. Founders Tatou (the eponymous Moussu T on lead vocals) and Blu (guitar and banjo) played together in Massilia Sound System, a highly influential reggae-based band that was Marseille’s version of the Clash or Manu Chao’s Mano Negra.  This band continues Massilia’s multicultural explorations in a more casual framework -- one of the pleasures of Moussu T is that they always sound like a friendly jam session or a group of highly sophisticated street-corner buskers.  Their material references French popular music of the last 80 years while incorporating American blues and jazz, Brazilian and Caribbean rhythms, Malian and North African modes, and straightforward rock ‘n’ roll, all without a shred of artificiality or arbitrariness.  Tatou’s gruff vocals are right out of the Dr. John/Tom Waits playbook, and the band (augmented for this live appearance) provides a perfect platform for Blu’s always surprising solos.  This is a perfect introduction to what I think is one of the world’s great bands, at the height of their powers. 
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