The result is a blend of traditional New Orleans jazz, funk and soul, intertwined with hard-rock power chords and hip-hop beats, fourteen tracks written or co-written by Andrews, who plays trombone (predictable), trumpet (he’s equally impressive there), organ, drums, piano, keys, synth bass and percussion. He’s no slouch as a singer either, and while he’s not quite up there with the very best of them when he’s that good instrumentally he doesn’t have to be.

All the same, compared to Backatown you get the feeling Shorty’s out to carve himself a niche in the mainstream. Tightly focussed, aimed straight for the dance floor or a standing only concert venue (this stuff ain’t gonna work as well with a sedentary audience) in the same way the recent Robert Randolph, For True is the basis you could build a killer live set around and then move copies at the merch booth as the punters are on the way out.

From the opening notes of Buckjump with added funk from the horn section from Rebirth Brass Band we’re firmly in contemporary territory, with rap interjections from some dude called Fifth Ward Weebie, a combination that’d probably having Hughesy turning off if it wasn’t so obviously New Orleans. Bounce is the local take on rap and from the evidence here and on Galactic’s Ya-Ka-May, it hits close enough to the New Orleans past to maintain a rap-negative old bloke’s interest, largely thanks to those street-parade  horns and a rubbery bass line that’s almost guaranteed to get the old booty a-shakin’.

Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers Band, Gov't Mule, a bloke who turn up all over the jam band scene in the USA) adds his trademark slide to Encore, which is the second track rather than the finale, co-written with Lamont Dozier (the Motown legend, no less),  grounded in a B-3 groove with Haynes over the top and intermittent brass punctuation.

Electric guitar, in fact, gets a fair run through the early part of the album, with Pete Murano channeling his inner Dick Dale on For True over a hip-hop beat and spitting trumpet from Andrews, while Jeff Beck comes to the party for Do to Me, chipping in with an obviously Jeff Beck or someone with very similar musical DNA solo to go with the Orleans Avenue bounce on a horn-heavy sing-along. 

In Crescent City parlance, a lagniappe is a small bonus given to a customer (an extra doughnut when you buy a dozen, that sort of thing) and Lagniappe, Pt. 1, at a tad over a minute probably fits into that definition rather well. House party mode and the dance floor groove continue through The Craziest Thing, which, again, bounces along in house party mode, complete with big beefy blasts of booty-shaking brass.

Dumaine St. and Mrs. Orleans work the same territory, though I could have done without the Kid Rock rap on the latter, there’s a New Orleans superstar presence on Nervis as Cyril and Ivan Neville do their thing through a groove that hearkens back to the seventies.

Roses fits, more or less, into the same slot as Backatown’s Show Me Something Beautiful, and is, more or less Beautiful Mark 2, but the instrumental  Big 12 (a tribute to big brother James) with layers of horns piled on top of each other is straight back into solid groove territory, as is the Balkan tango Unc. A guest vocal from Ledisi on Then There Was You  brings the main proceedings to a close before another Lagniappe winds things up completely.

While there are bits and pieces here that will more than likely give a died in the wool traditionalist a fit of the screaming abdabs, For True captures the vibe of a high voltage rave in some New Orleans club, blending tradition and innovation, rock and funk, hip hop and Mardi Gras. More mainstream (or aimed at a wider audience) than Backatown it’s still a vibrantly eclectic of a continuing tradition. When’s the next one due?

© Ian Hughes 2012