Recorded during a 16-month period in France with three different local groups of musicians, The French Connection is primarily a blues project showcasing the lithe vocal talents of Zora Young. The veteran Chicago chanteuse, a hard-touring regular on the European circuit for the past 28 years, is heard having a ball over the 14 spliced-together acoustic/electric/live cuts. Letting out intermittent high-pitched peals of delight when the mood takes her, the powerhouse blues singer wraps her husky, warm, emotive vocals around an eclectic choice of gospel, country, jazz and Delta blues songs.
There are fresh readings of R&B standards like “Wang Dang Doodle” and “See See Rider” alongside enjoyable versions of Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying With You” (a duet with long-time collaborator, multi-instrumentalist, and acting musical director Bobby Dirninger), Elvis’s “In the Ghetto”, and a soul-blues cover of Hank Snow’s country classic “I’m Movin’ On”. The standout is reserved for Young’s live performance on her moody, low-down blues original “Toxic”. Put together by Dirninger and producer Chris Dussuchaud, and with excellent arrangements and musicianship throughout, especially Dirninger on slide guitar and perceptive percussion supplied by Catherine “Cajoune” Girard on washboard, this is truly a patchwork-blues pleasure.