Following the celebrated releases Cow Island Hop (2008) and En Couleurs (2010), Two Universes is the product of long-steeping recording sessions and collaborative songwriting between bandleader Chris Stafford and singer and multi-instrumentalist Kelli Jones, whose contributions make this a breakout album, of sorts.
Raised on Appalachian fiddle traditions, Kelli adds old-time stomp to the band’s repertoire. Also new to the band, keyboardist Andrew Toups lends a new-wave gospel sound owed to his background playing in rock bands. Toups’s influence on shaping the record, combined with Feufollet’s usual fare—twin fiddles, French accordion, guitar twang, and barn-dance rhythms— give the record more than a passing resemblance to the Band’s Music From the Big Pink.
But above all else, the album’s signature sound comes from the vocal performances. Flipping from husky honky-tonk angel to French chanteuse, Kelli’s voice perfectly pairs with Stafford’s swamp-pop vocal stylings. As the two trade off lead and harmony parts, they hit upon some of the same magic as history’s greatest duet partners—Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, and Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Theirs is the sound of two universes colliding and, no surprise, it reaches maximum effect on the album’s title track.
Cajun, country, and rock’n’roll all began as homespun enterprises, by musicians tinkering with inherited melodies until new sounds were struck. Feufollet keeps that experimental spirit alive and well with their diverse musical palette, edgy arrangements, and pop-song sensibilities. On their 11-track release—exquisitely packaged with the psychedelic-folk art of Louisiana painter Francis Pavy—the band accomplishes the unusual feat of creating a sound that is at once familiar and fresh, classic and yet unmistakably original.