Jan. 19, 2017 01:56 PM

To be honest, Chris Ardoin’s Requested Live is not a live album in the traditional sense. Instead, its more of a live mixtape, pulling live takes from different shows and a variety of flavors. And it’s so well produced and clean by studio standards that’s it’s hard to believe it’s a live cut at all. If not for the subtle hints at the end of certain tracks — minimal bits of crowd noise, mentions of a live recording taking place — it would be pass for a best-of mixtape.

What Requested Live presents is a live best-of or a best-of-live collection. These are the songs audiences want to hear the most. And that’s what Ardoin — a zydeco circuit, festival staple and flag bearer for the Ardoin legacy — gives them.

Although pivotal in the new — or nu — school of zydeco, here Ardoin retains middle-of-the-road sounds that make him a draw. True, there are plenty of R&B influences to be heard, but the unmistakable and powerful sounds of Creole Southwest Louisiana fill the record. Ardoin’s take on genre for the record is an updated songbook. He’s not about that sharecropper life, but relatable topics of love, lust and longing. Yet, it is absent of tracks that completely cross over, something he has done in some of his studio work: “Candy Man,” “Grown Folk Business,” “Party Til the Sunrise” and the remixes of his various cuts such as “Sweat.” Instead, Ardoin’s live vault opens to reveal tracks akin to the majority of his albums’ material — classic Creole accordion weaved into new or borrowed songs with dance floor-filling rhythms a la “Waitin’ 4 This Moment,” his adaptation of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.”

Requested Live’s 18 tracks run through his back catalog, hitting high notes such like “Fightin’ Temptation,” “Cry,” “Stallion” and “Luv Gun.” In live record fashion, there are some twists and turns as songs like “Zydeco Boogaloo” segues into “Waitin’ 4 This Moment” and “Stallion” transitions into a zydeco version of Ginuwine’s “Pony,” a point that finds Ardoin at his most modernized. Still, it is straight forward Ardoin — don’t expect drawn out jams that radically change the source material.

If there is a fault here it is that Requested Live stays in the same gear through most, if not all of, the album. Though it is just one gear, it is a good gear. Also, with the lack of raw live edges normally found on a live record, it comes off a bit muted. But, for fans of Ardoin, these are not cons at all but simply a guarantee that Requested Live is just what they want — a collection of him at his best, live.

Nick Pittman is a freelance entertainment and feature writer. To contact him, email pittmanreviews@gmail.com.


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