Big Chief Monk Boudreaux- "Rising Sun"

Big Chief Monk BoudreauxPublisher: offBeat
Reviewer: Aaron LaFont
01 July 2009

"As a member of the venerated Wild Magnolias, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux played a key role in bringing the locally revered Mardi Gras Indian tradition to national and international prominence. In New Orleans, his persona is as indelible and cherished as any of his more widely renowned cohorts. On his latest album, Rising Sun, which also features Cherokee sage Reverend Goat Carson, Boudreaux comes out blazing with “Golden Crown,” a pulsating blues rocker that seeks to capture the excitement and anticipation of setting out with the Big Chief and his tribe on a Mardi Gras morning.

Rising Sun, much a like a Mardi Gras parade, is a mixed bag of surprises. Occasionally, the music outpaces Monk’s reverberant timbre. On “Golden Grown,” guitarist John Lisi’s impulsive, whirlwind riffs eclipse the Big Chief’s hearty calls. Things play out much better on “Voodoo Woman,” a track where Monk’s entrancing chants resonate deeply within Lisi’s funky, psychedelic grooves.

There are also a few tunes which feel contrived and out of place on this largely experimental and introspective disc. The fun but hokey shuffle “Dance with Me”—a quirky reworking of the seasonal favorite “Mardi Gras in New Orleans”—offers little in comparison to the stripped-down, pedal steel-streaked closer “Iko, Iko,” a fervent rendering of the spirited Mardi Gras classic. Of Carson’s three contributions, the belligerent, satirical romp “Captain Kirk and Custer” makes the most lasting impression.

As for Rising Sun, it’s most memorable songs stem from a deep, mysterious undercurrent. The title track rises from a dark, misty fog to unearth a rich, passionate reggae-tinted collage. The Uppressors’ Ru Williams and Goat Carson both contribute verses to the album’s most arresting and enduring number, “Brothers.” In the cathartic refrain, “All I got for you my brother is love,” lies a powerful recollection of the past and a sign of hope and strength for the future."