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There aren’t a lot of good things to say about the destruction that Hurricane Katrina caused, especially in New Orleans. But in a roundabout way, that storm helped form the Honey Island Swamp Band. All five members had been displaced by Katrina in 2005, landing them in San Francisco. It was there that they formed the group which has gone on to release a batch of solid and diverse roots rock albums, of which this is the fourth and arguably best.

It’s an energetic eclectic set that finds the sweet spot between soul, funk, rock, country, gospel, blues, boogie, reggae and yes, swamp . . . all supported by a strong Southern rock base. That may seem like a muddled jumble but the group weaves these influences into rugged, often playful songs with the easy interaction of an ensemble that has been playing bars and clubs for the better part of eight years. Credit veteran John Porter who produced, recorded, mixed and mastered these dozen songs. He captures the band’s vibrant, buoyant playing with a crisp sound that pulses out of the speakers. The studio recording adds occasional horns, female backing vocals, fiddle and banjo and feels like a particularly peppy live show. Vocals by principal songwriters Aaron Williamson and Chris Mule are committed, soulful and tough, befitting the similarly styled music.
But even if the sound isn’t exactly groundbreaking — The Band was creating similar music 40 years ago — these guys sure can start a party. The titular swamp is a real place and Cane Sugar does its best to transport you there with an effervescent, energized album that unearths the best musical aspects of the South and delivers them to wherever you might be.