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Review: Kristi Guillory and the Midtown Project, Broken Glass

Kristi Guillory and the Midtown Project
Broken Glass
[Self-released (2012)]

Think someone known for playing trad Cajun music with a wheezy accordion can’t pull off a little ballsy Americana roots rock? Well, think again. Kristi Guillory, who fronts her band BonSoir Catin, has been dabbling in roots rock since she was a kid, right around the time she answered Cajun music’s call and became one of the genre’s leading lights. On this indie-sounding EP, she shows her talents extend beyond the Cajun fiefdom with seven crafty originals that are loaded with hooks. What will likely appeal most is her ability to turn a phrase, such as ‘left a daughter at my breast’ and ‘ I give to you despite the cost/But I, I won’t miss the heart I lost’ that draws the listener into the tale at hand. Understandably, there’s a colorful southern ambience to it all, like Jodi coming from ‘a Northern soil’ (“Jodi the Driller”). He marries a Cajun girl and jumps ‘across the broomstick put a ring on her white hand,’ a reference to an old custom to signify a union when a priest wasn’t nearby.

The arrangements tend to rock out, especially with Brian Marshall’s searing guitar leads, yet they’re also densely layered with steel guitars, accordions (of course), keys and fiddles. “Easter” practically goes ballistic; a heat-seeking missile of a tune rife with intense lyrics to match: ‘I was crucified on Tuesday/I should resurrect by Friday.’ Guillory and the Midtown Project close out the proceedings with the disc’s only non-original, Pee Wee King’s “Tennessee Waltz,” perhaps the most alternative version of the 1950 Patti Page-popularized classic you’ll ever hear—even if Los Lobos should record it down the road. All this may be Guillory’s shards of broken glass, but rendered here they’re bright, glittery diamonds.

– Dan Willging (Denver, CO)

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