The Louisiana act Feufollet has shaped its sound into something it calls "Cajun swamp-pop" on its terrific new album Two Universes. On it, the group explores a melting pot sound that meshes Cajun, classic country, indie rock, swamp pop, and Americana. Some tunes even sound like '60s pop. Given that original singer Anna Laura Edmiston, who joined the band when she was only 16, left the group a few years ago, it’s all the more impressive that the band has been able to rally behind new vocalist Kelli Jones-Savoy.
“Anna was a big part of our band because she was one of the lead vocalists along with me,” says singer-guitarist Chris Stafford via phone from an Atlanta tour stop. “She was a big part of the sound. In terms of songwriting, she was another songwriter. It took some time to retool. We’ve tried a few different things but we’ve known [singer and multi-instrumentalist] Kelli Jones-Savoy for a long time. Our bassist and I have done other projects with her, so we knew it would be a good fit. She’s a good writer and a good singer. We knew we had a musical connection. It’s been really easy-going. It took us a minute to figure out what to do but it’s been a great experience.”
Jones-Savoy really struts her stuff on Two Universes. She wrote several of the songs and sings lead vocals on the album’s opening tune, “I’m Tired of Your Tears,” a song that could practically pass as bluegrass; Jones-Savoy’s twangy vocals give the song a country feel while the accordion helps keep it in Cajun territory.
“We like all different types of stuff,” says Stafford. “We grew up playing very traditional Cajun music but as the years go on, we have more influences and our writing takes shape in different ways. Also, Kelli is a big country music fan. Her material has that kind of flavor. She grew up playing old-time fiddle music. It’s part of her upbringing and experience, and it feeds into the sound overall.
With its spacey organ riff and steady drumbeat, “Know What’s Next” almost comes off as psychedelic rock. It was written as a rock song with no intention of being played by a Cajun band.
“I wrote that song close to ten years ago,” Stafford explains when asked about the tune. “At the time, I don’t think it would have been a song that would have gone on one of our records. I’ve written songs for years and years. I’ve had other groups. That would have been sung in French with a more traditional flavor. With this record, we wanted to go in a more all-original music route. In the past, we relied more heavily on more traditional tunes that are part of the repertoire or more obscure songs that we would retool to make them different and fit our band. We picked up songs that I had laying around.”
Both “Know What’s Next” and the title track are both older songs. The poppy “Two Universes” finds Stafford and Jones-Savoy harmonizing.
“I wrote it as a country song or a singer-songwriter song,” Stafford says of the title track. “The aim was to take the stuff we all had. Kelli had some stuff that was written a long time before this album was put together. We wanted to assemble that stuff and figure out ways we could make it all fit together. It’s a love song. It’s one of those things that’s maybe a reminder to not be complacent and not let yourself get bored in the relationship. It’s important to keep surprising each other and keep some kind of spark going. That’s the theme of it. I wanted it to make it sound like a ’60s pop song. It’s weird — the melody just came to me. It has a happy little feel.”
Two Universes represents an exciting new chapter for the Lafayette-based band, but Stafford says he doesn’t really know if the group will continue to mix alt-country and Cajun music on the next offering.
“I don’t know that we have any idea what we’ll do next,” he says. “We’re releasing the record on this tour. We’ll tour on it for a little while. We have some new songs. I have a few songs and Kelli has a few songs. Who knows what will come out of us next. I don’t think we have any expectations or kinds of ideas. A lot of it will come out once we get together to think about it. That will dictate the kind of sound and feel that we’ll go for with the next one.”
Feufollet, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 5, Music Box Supper Club, 1148 Main Ave., 216-242-1250. Tickets: $12 ADV, $15 DOS, musicboxcle.com.