Nathan And The Zydeco Cha Chas – A New Road
Nathan Williams never disappoints. On record and in person, you can always depend on Williams’ rockin’ Zydeco to lift your spirits and move your feet. For this outing on his own Cha Cha label, it’s a Williams convention, a multi-generational family affair from top to bottom. Produced by son Nate Jr, who also played bass and keys, the record features youngest son Naylan on drums, brother Dennis Paul on guitar and first cousin Mark Anthony “Chukka” Williams on rubboard.
Nathan’s versatility on accordion and Dennis Paul’s jazzy guitar riffs and gift for improvisation take the Cha Cha’s music to a higher level than his peers.
Williams has a knack for penning autobiograpical songs that reflect his triumphs over hard times, as he has previously in “Hard Times” from 2000’s Let’s Go, and does here with “I’m Still Alive,” a message to those who thought he’d faded away: “You thought I was gone/and left my music alone/ but I was home writing songs/trying to keep the Zydeco alive/ before the music/ take a big dive.”
Nathan doesn’t do many covers but when he does, they’re spectacular. His version of Ray Charles’ “I Can’t Stop Loving You” is stunning. Although its a bit strange to get used to the Charles weeper in chanky chank waltz mode, when Williams starts to sing he sounds like another famous Williams of the Hank persuasion. In his hands it’s smooth soul you can hold on tight to your beloved to while whirling her slowly around the dance floor. Dennis Paul lays in chords behind him like a pedal steel, adding a country feel till Nathan steps in on accordion and breaks it up with his two step chop.
Jim Croce’s “Leroy Brown” rocks harder than the original, making this version one you can stomp around happily to while you shout the chorus back with beer-soaked fervor.
“Zydeco Girl” is a new swamp pop classic built to fill up the dance floor for decades to come.
Nathan has the good sense and taste to leave Clifton Chenier’s “I’m Coming Home” as it is. However, it doesn’t come across as a carbon copy but as an affectionate tribute to one of Chenier’s most popular offering and soon to be one of Nathan’s most requested tunes.
Even though he’s calling it a new road, Nathan Williams is still traveling on the same journey he’s always been on, motoring along in the finest vehicle in the fleet, putting out the best Zydeco in the business.