I recently went to the USA for the musical trip of a lifetime, one stop during said trip included four days in New Orleans. If one arrives in the Crescent City with little or no knowledge of Jazz, be warned - you'll certainly be left feeling uplifted by their own brand of giddy and downright goofy Jazz stylings. The same could be said for Canadian instrumentalists, The Boxcar Boy's third studio release - Cicada Ball.
The premise behind this album is that the Cicadas (a kind of large American tree cricket) have taken a break from chirping on those sticky summer evenings, and decided to throw a party. I'm not sure I can think of a better way to describe the music on this album - it's everything you'd expect from a bunch of jolly little insects! If anyone out there's been to the legendary jazz venue: Preservation Hall in New Orleans, you'll understand how the Boxcar Boys would fit right in there once listening to Cicada Ball.
The Boxcar Boys have a way of crossing musical genres thanks to the host of talent available to the members (not all of whom are boys I might add…). I loved "Wally on The Run" which presents an Appalachian-infused melody, including a jaw harp - very rock and roll. The jazzy joyfulness that runs through the album is broken up by such tracks that transcend genres such as the solemn old time gospel-sounding "Hymn For George".
Time to draw a parallel with Star Wars and hopefully not offend anyone in the process… The opening few seconds of "That's a Plenty" really sounds like that Cantina Band song from Star Wars Episode IV: A new Hope! Sorry guys and girls if that's a little rude of me! As well as alluding to Star Wars, there are is a mix of traditionals and originals on Cicada Ball including the provocative "Take your Fingers Off It" - quite what they're putting their fingers on we'll never really know, but it makes for great listening fun!
Honestly I wouldn't ever claim to know an awful lot about jazz music. In fact it's the genre I'm lacking in knowledge the most. That said Cicada Ball is a fantastic and hearty release boasting some wonderful musical prowess bordering on virtuosity. Clarinet, accordion, trombone - everything you'd expect to hear on a New Orleans-style jazz album; then add a banjo, harmonica and the odd string of smokey Armstrong-esque vocals and you've got a rich cauldron of melodic soup going on here.
I'm gonna keep this one short and sweet as I don't want to further offend any Jazzos out there. The Boxcar Boys have really laid on a feast of song and dance in Cicada Ball, showcasing an opulent style of music which spans the spaces between Europe and the USA.
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