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The Blue Dahlia, Le Tradition Américaine

What a fun album! The Blue Dahlia is a Brooklyn-based "project" by Dahlia Dumont and seven or eight friends. Dumont is a first-generation American and the title track honors immigrants through the eyes of a small girl who seldom sees her father because he is working hard to support his family. It's a testament to what it really means to come to America. The songs on this album are in English and French, but this multicultural/multiethnic band draws upon everything from French chanson to reggae, ska, jazz, folk, klezmer, and Big Band stylings. How about, for starters, both an old-time/bluegrass version of "I See Things Differently" and the same song with a reggae backbeat? Dumont has a strong voice to go with her scrappy approach to singing. She airs out her chops on the soulful, torchy "Reasonable," but goes full bore French café singer on "Canal Saint Martin." "Le Reve II" is a joyous number that could be at home at a community dance somewhere in Mexico, or maybe the southern Pyrenees. Dumont propels herself into the heart attack-paced "Blah, Blah, Blah," a giddy number of trying to make big decisions when there's just too much in her mind. On "Plantation," she goes calypso. This is a kitchen sink kind of album in all the best ways. You can do a lot when two saxophonists, a trombonist, a trumpeter, a cellist, several accordionists and percussionists, bass, guitar, violin, and ukulele are laying down the grooves. ★★★★