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Marc Broussard

Voice of maturity

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By Lynne Margolis  
artist

The very opening cut on Carencro, Marc Broussard's first full-length album, immediately marks him as an astounding talent, one whose musical maturity far surpasses his twenty-three years. Perhaps that's because Broussard started performing professionally when he was five in his father's band.

He's since developed as a worthy heir to the soul throne warmed by the likes of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Brian McKnight, Bill Withers or any singer who ever fronted Tower of Power. Broussard's equally adroit at conjuring the gentle vocal catch, and songwriting prowess, of underrated Philadelphian Jeffrey Gaines, or the jazz hooks of scat master George Benson. But this naturally funky Louisianian isn't at all about imitating his soul-singer influences, or copping from the Daryl Hall/blue-eyed soul school. Paying homage, yes, but clearly able to make his own mark with a style that cuts across genre boundaries.

His songs tend to swell dramatically, building until they practically explode with passion. At times, he literally can't hold back. But he's not a scenery chewer, just a guy with amazing vocal strength.

Broussard is adept at creating infectious, dance-funk, pop-rockers such as "Rocksteady," and sweet ballads like "Saturday."  But when he lets the serious soul loose and drenches it with gospel or blues, as he does on "Lonely Night in Georgia," "The Wanderer," and "Home," he can blow a mighty big house down with his voice. As it turns out, many of the vocal and instrumental parts on this album are first-take recordings. That's no surprise, given the sheer intensity that Broussard clearly possesses. Even his solo acoustic turn on the unlisted final track, "Jeremiah's Prayer," is spine-tingling.

For support, Broussard has enlisted talent on these recordings of equal caliber. Included in a long list of players is his dad, Ted, on acoustic guitar; Sonny Landreth and Julian Coryell, son of famed guitarist Larry Coryell, on electric guitars; and Lenny Castro on percussion. The disc was produced by Marshall Altman, and named for the town in which Broussard grew up, ten minutes from the musical hotbed of Lafayette, La., where Landreth was raised. Altman frequently offers backing vocals and instrumental aid, and the Carencro Symphony Orchestra Gospel Choir contributes to "The Wanderer." Broussard also has some top-notch songwriting collaborators, including Radney Foster, Marton Sexton, Mike Elizondo and Jay Joyce.

Broussard has one other release to his credit, the independent EP Momentary Setback. Released in 2002, it was a great indicator of things to come. "Just Like That" from Momentary Setback, was included on the excellent Lost Highway compilation, Lost and Found, Vol. 1. Broussard also appears on the double-disc Bruce Springsteen tribute, Light of Day, where he quite ably performs "Back in Your Arms."

Veteran journalist Lynn Margolis writes about music from Austin, Texas. Her articles have appeared widely in such publications as The Austin American-Statesman, Texas Music, RollingStone.com, and the RIAA's Grammy magazine.