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Various Artists

Vanguard

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Evangeline Made: A Tribute to Cajun Music is a sort of O Frere, Ou; Es-Tu? for anyone who can’t get enough of hearing sterling names in rootsy rock and pop team up with folk’s legendary players and cream off the very finest of that genre’s compositions for the space of one sparklingly perfect CD. That, by the way, is a compliment: This 14-song “tribute,” helmed by the great Cajun guitarist Ann Savoy and her accordionist husband, Mark Savoy, is as free from the potential pitfalls of such a thing—stifling preciousness and boutique presentation—as its best-selling, Grammy-winning inspiration. The emotional directness of the numbers tends to amp up the subtleties of its hired voices: Patty Griffin’s taut nasality makes fine embroidery out of “Pa Janvier, Laisse Moi M’en Aller,” Rodney Crowell’s offhanded French on “Blues de Bosco” is merrily close to out-of-control, and John Fogerty’s lived-in bayou bark is used to great effect in the barnstormin’ “Diggy Liggy Lo.” Likewise, Linda Thompson perfectly plays the languorous raconteuse on “Valse de Balfa,” half-talking her way through a lover’s bitter but strangely detached story, and Richard Thompson completely claims the misery of “Les Flammes d’Enfer.” There isn’t a bum moment on the thing, and even if most reasonable people wouldn’t believe that this is the sort of project Nick Lowe or the ethereally clueless Linda Ronstadt is right for, no one here does violence to the music’s plangency, elasticity, or resilient soul. —Arion Berger