Get a few tracks deep into T’Monde’s Yesterday’s Gone and there’s a conundrum: Is this a collection of 100-year-old, archival traditional Cajun tracks or does it just sound that way? Amazingly, these songs that seem dyed-in-the-wool and old school Cajun-by-the-book are mostly songs pulled into the canon by the trio.
T’Monde has baptized outside songs into Cajun music with incredibly deft skills. George Strait’s “When Did You Stop Loving Me,” Hank Williams’ “Wedding Bells,” Shorty Long’s “Just Like Me” and Webb Pierce’s “I Don’t Care” all have a new life here. Borrowing from more recent material, they craft a breathtaking rendition of Travis Matte’s “South Crowley Waltz.” Covering songs is nothing new, but what is different is how it is done by T’Monde. They’ve brought these cuts in so deeply they pass for Cajun standards.
Others are from the valued vaults of yesteryear: “Tiger Rag Blues” and “Tite Fille de la Campagne.” Originals like “Bombay Bounce,” “Tracasse Pas” and “Kara’s Bounce” add to the archives of tomorrow.
A trio, the sound is scaled down with all three members — Megan Brown (Les Malfecteurs, The Pine Leaf Boys, The Lafayette Rhythm Devils), Drew Simon (Pine Leaf Boys), Kelli Jones–Savoy (Feufollet) — switching vocal duties. The variety is a nice touch. Likewise, the sound moves from sorrowful old songs to peppy numbers like the “M&S Special.” Though some are in the fashion of Cajun honky-tonk — albeit on a smaller scale than what most bands do — others are quaint and at the heart of early Cajun style. Overall, Yesterday’s Gone sounds like a family reunion if the branches included the Carter Family and Joe and Cleoma Breaux Falcon.