Offbeat Review by Dan Willging
A mixture of sugar, bitters, whiskey and a twist of citrus rind, the Old Fashioned is a potent cocktail you don’t want to overindulge in if you want to keep your car keys. Blake Miller & the Old Fashioned Aces’ sonic concoction is comparably potent since Miller (accordion, fiddle), Amelia Biere (guitar) and AJ Srubas (fiddle) stir its ingredients creatively to cover a vibrant breadth of Cajun music on this bountiful 16-track affair. There are passionately played waltzes (“Mermentau Waltz,” “Amitié Cassé”); there are fiddle duets like “Courville-McGee Waltz,” where Srubas and Miller burrow into the melody line for an entrancing performance. A handful of tracks are rousing dancehall numbers (“Pointe Aux Pins”) propelled by guests Jimmy Breaux, drums, and Joseph Vidrine, doghouse bass. On these tracks, Srubas jumps on steel for some twangy rides that add yet another angle to the Aces’ broad palette of sound.
Yet it’s the vocals that really seal the deal. Biere plays a huge role in this regard with her spirited, hardscrabble vocals. She and Miller harmonize magically together, as evidenced by the novel rendition of the Keith Whitley-Lorrie Morgan country hit (popularized regionally by Johnny Sonnier and Helen Boudreaux) “Til a Tear Becomes a Rose” sung in both English and French.
Of Miller’s two originals, the sans-accordion “Quelle Belle Journée” is quite distinct from other Cajun tunes with driving, weaving fiddles, and an infectious melody with Biere relaying the story from her imagined perspective. Regardless of how the Aces stir it, trust me; your car keys are safe.