Louisiana native Marc Broussard has a great appreciation for music. Or at least that’s what he would want you to think.
Always armed with hipper-than-thou clothing and an acoustic guitar, Broussard has made no secret of his “there is always music playing in the house” upbringing. On top of that, he is the son of Louisiana guitar great Ted Broussard, a man who left his mark on the music world as a member of the somewhat famed Cajun group, the Boogie Kings.
At the ripe young age of 20, Broussard released his first record, Momentary Setback, and then eventually began to gain notoriety upon the release of his first major label effort, 2004’s Carencro. But it wasn’t until his reaction to the tragic floods that crippled New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina that Broussard really gained a name nationally. His various television performances of “Home”, a heartfelt acoustic guitar-driven homage to the area that suffered most during 2005’s storms, captivated almost anyone who had never heard his name.
It wasn’t necessarily his talents that got people’s attention during that time. Broussard’s sincerity wrapped itself around anyone who was willing to watch. If there was one thing anyone could tell Broussard wanted anyone to know, it was that he had a grip on where he came from and exactly how much of a love he had for music’s history and tradition.
And if that wasn’t enough, now there’s this. Broussard’s third studio album, S.O.S.: Save Our Soul is a farther dip into classic R&B/soul music than any contemporary artist has been willing to take within the past 10 years. Its lo-fi production, and sense that the man singing at least kind of has an idea of how the songs should be performed, make it, at the very least, feel like he was trying to do the right thing when he decided to move forward with this project.
Of course, R&B staples that any casual rhythm and blues fan would know sprinkle S.O.S.. And even they are pretty good. Broussard’s version of the Staples Singers’ “Respect Yourself” is eerily authentic for a 25-year-old from Louisiana. As he starts in by singing “if you don’t give a heck about the man…” it becomes downright scary how much he turns your entire world back to the 1960s.
And while Rance Allen’s “Let the Music Get Down in Your Soul” and Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” are predictable, it doesn’t take away from Broussard’s tremendous amount of accuracy in pulling these tracks off. The funk guitar in Allen’s classic takes you directly to Sunday morning’s mass and lets you bask in all of the gospel glory the song brings. Then, while it is understood he could have picked a much more interesting track from Gaye’s collection, Broussard’s performance is mellow enough to make you believe it, and delicate enough to lie in.
But it’s not as if Broussard let this album go untouched. While the entire disc is covered with, well, covers, the 25-year-old manages to get a track of his own wedged in between the classics. It is utterly unfathomable to believe that “Come in from the Cold” was written and performed in 2007, much less by him and not Otis Redding. As he caresses each word with his fragile crooning, the clean upstroke guitar (circa 1963) was probably played at your grandparents’ prom. Or at least it should have been.
And that’s not even where Broussard is at his best. Stevie Wonder’s “You Met Your Match” is unbelievably genuine. Not only does Broussard do the best Stevie Wonder impersonation a young white kid has ever, or will ever be able to pull off, but Broussard’s knack for staying true to the guitars Wonder became so famous for and the trademark organ/keyboard sound that has become synonymous with the last name “Wonder” makes this particular performance better than anything else on the album.
And so it goes. Marc Broussard indeed has a great appreciation for music. And on S.O.S. he definitely proves that, because it is simple—it is impossible for an individual to produce such alarmingly true performances of songs that were written decades ago and not have a good sense of where he has been. Now it’s just a matter of seeing where he is going. And if S.O.S. is any indication, it may be a funky, memorable ride.